Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Club

At first, I thought it was just a figment of my imagination…

The smiles, little waves, even a ‘sup head nod.

But now, I know I’m not imagining it.  It really happens, every time I’m out and about.  Walking down the street, swimming in the pool, strolling the mall, shopping in Target.

Who, you ask, is giving me the smiles, waves, and gangster nods?

Other mamas.

I guess on October 10th I officially became part of “the club.”

And I guess the little gestures are like our secret handshakes.  Because truly, if you’re not a mama, you have no idea.  (Yes, I used to HATE when people said that to me.)  And if you are part of our club, you know what it’s like.

What it’s like to crave even three hours of consecutive sleep.  To struggle to provide the main source of nourishment for your newborn.  To wonder how such a tiny little being can cry constantly, over-and-over-again, with no end in sight.

What it’s like to lose all concept of days versus nights, to worry about your child from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, to check and make sure your little one is breathing-is she breathing?-are you SURE she’s breathing?

What it’s like to want to give your child the most incredible life, and wonder how to do just that.  To feel so proud when she rolls over, sits up, crawls, claps, waves goodbye, stands up, uses baby sign language, cruises across furniture, starts saying words, giggles…

What it’s like to be THAT mom, in Target, shoving baby crack puffs into your child’s mouth so she’ll PLEASE stop screaming (because you HAVE to go down every aisle at Target or else the trip is not complete).

What it’s like to love somebody so much it literally hurts.  To feel the most intense, insane joy, a joy that makes your heart feel like it’s going to explode, a joy everyone told you about but you never truly understood until she took her first breath.

So yeah, I’m part of this little secret society.  And now I’m the one giving the gangster nods and encouraging smiles to the red-eyed, deer-in-headlights-looking-new-mamas who wander aimlessly around Target holding teeny, tiny newborns.

I’m always tempted to put a 12 pack of Blue Moon and container of puffs into their carts, and tell them they’ll thank me later.

But for now, I just wave and think, welcome to the club.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Oh, Hi.

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately.

Though it’s pretty narcissistic of me to think that anyone noticed…

Or cared.

But, I’ve started to do what I PROMISED MYSELF I wouldn’t do – count down the days I have left with my silly, ridiculously adorable Cameron Kate.  So, I’m making a concerted effort to soak up every-single-teensy-tiny second I have left with her before it’s back to life, back to re-al-ity.

Which resulted in a neglected blog.

I also told myself that when she napped, (by the way, if she only sleeps for 25 minutes, is that still called a nap?) I’d force myself to RELAX.  Mostly because I couldn’t think of one time this entire summer when I’d actually sat on the couch, and done nothing.

Because the minute she goes down, I’m either cleaning, or blogging, or working on her baby book, or cleaning, or doing laundry, or making grocery lists, or chasing down package-stealing criminals, or couponing, or working out, or cleaning.

So, for this entire week, minus a few – you guess it – cleaning binges, I really have sat my flat mom-butt on the couch during her brief moments of counting sheep and drowned myself in homemade, under-cooked brownies and episodes of Big Brother.

And I plan on doing as much of this as possible – breathing in every ounce, every giggle, every silly moment with this girl…

While I also increase both my waistline (see under-cooked brownies) and my level of stupidity (see Big Brother).

And I’m going to enjoy every minute. J

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy 4 Years to Us!

Nevermind that I'm sitting in my sweats, hair on top of my head, no makeup on, banana baby food smeared across my face....  Four years ago I was just hanging out on an island in the Caribbean, getting all dressed up, walking down a beach to say "I do."

Happy 4 Years to my awesome hub!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

So This is What Happened

It was time for Cameron’s afternoon nap.  She’s not a very good napper, and Bailey barks if a leaf falls off of a tree.  So, because I was expecting UPS to drop off my new Timi and Leslie diaper bag (!!!) right around CK’s nap time, I decided to shut the blinds and put a note on the door that read, “Please don’t knock… sleeping baby” in hopes of keeping Bailey from waking up her little sister.

So, I parked my rear on the couch, caught up on classy episodes of Teen Mom, and worked on Cameron’s baby book.  I heard the UPS truck drive up and set the package on the porch.  I was SO excited!!  But, our front door is ridiculously loud when you open it, and Bailey usually goes ballistic when you do open it because she thinks someone is here… SO, I decided I’d wait and retrieve the package once Cameron woke up.

Five minutes later, I hear a car pull into our driveway.  Hm… I was curious as to who was here.  My good friend Lindsay had mentioned that she may come by, so I thought it could be her.  I grabbed Bailey in hopes of preventing an epic barking meltdown, and peaked through the blinds.  There was a guy getting out of a car.  My first thought was, “Please don’t knock on the door and wake up my sleeping baby!”  So I headed toward our garage, thinking I would open it and stop him before he knocked, because he must be trying to sell something.

But I stopped in my tracks, about four steps away from opening the garage.  Wait a second – he was questionable-looking, and did he pull his hood over his head when he got out of the car?

I went back over to the window and peaked out of the blinds, trying to figure out what this guy’s MO was.  If he was about to try to break into our house, I needed a plan.  In that moment I saw him pick up my glorious package from Amazon, and head back saunter toward his car.

WHAT THE HECK!!!!!!!!!!  (Much more innappropriate curse words screamed through my head.)

This guy was stealing my new diaper bag!  This idiot had walked right up to my house and was taking something that was mine!  This criminal was thirty feet away from my precious little girl!

It’s all a little bit of a blur from here.

My initial reaction was to run out after him, scream at him, and get my damn package back.  I was FURIOUS.  I grabbed Bailey and went to the front door, opening it, staring at him as he put his car in reverse, trying to imprint his appearance and car in my mind, holding myself back from running outside toward him.  Bailey was, you guessed it, going ballistic.  He must have heard her or seen me, because at the same moment when I shut the door because I realized I was being stupid and careless (this guy could be CRAZY, could have a GUN), I heard a loud SMACK.

I thought, “Oh, he saw me, and threw my package out of his car.”

I peaked back through the blinds and saw that he had reversed right into a huge oak tree on the side of our driveway.

Karma at its finest.

I FINALLY grabbed my cell phone (obviously my brain wasn’t working as quickly as I would have liked) and dialed 911.  I filled them in on what happened as he drove away with my new, expensive, mustard-yellow Timi and Leslie diaper bag.

And with my sense of security.

And with a dented bumper.

I was furious.

I felt so incredibly violated.

The rest of the afternoon was spent talking to policemen (who, as of now, still haven’t caught him, despite my impressive description of both him and his vehicle… I couldn’t get his license plate number, unfortunately).   I also spent quite a bit of time on the phone with our insurance company, UPS, and Amazon.

Materialistic issues aside, I was furious.

And sad.

And disappointed.

And scared.

I’ve gone through all sorts of emotions since it happened.   I was furious that someone took what was mine.  I was sad that I didn’t get my diaper bag.  I was disappointed in myself and the way I reacted.  I was/am scared that this scumbag is going to come back with a scarier agenda.

Obviously, this guy is the type of guy who follows around UPS trucks, watches them drop off packages, waits to see if people are home, and, if they’re not, steals the packages off their doorsteps.  With our blinds closed and my car in the garage, it obviously appeared as though we weren’t home.

My disappointment in myself mostly stems from even considering running out after this guy.  I try to imagine what I would have done had CK not been in the picture.  I think I probably would’ve been more scared than angry.  But, with her sleeping peacefully in her room, just a few feet away, my mama-bear instincts kicked in, and I was pissed.  I wanted to throat-punch and sumo-tackle this guy all in the same moment.  My fear is that by going to and opening the front door, this guy realized that I saw him, which puts not only me, but my family in danger.

Oh if I could only go back in time…

The good news:  Amazon customer service is AWESOME and immediately set it up to send me another diaper bag.  Also, T called the officer who came to the house and asked for extra patrolling tonight and all day tomorrow.

The bad news:  Amazon customer service cannot replace my sense of safety, my sense of security.  Now I’M the one going ballistic every time I hear a leaf fall off of a tree.  I’m so on edge, so scared, and feel so violated.  I’m not sure what it’ll take to make me feel safe and secure in my house again, but it infuriates me to think about what this criminal stole from me.  And I’m not referring to the diaper bag.

BUT… I would love to see the look on his face when he opens up the package and realizes how big and bad he feels to have stolen a yellow diaper bag.

Enjoy, scumbag.

Midweek Randoms

1.  New look – same great taste.  You like?

2.  Cameron Kate’s tooth count is now up to 3.  Only one top tooth has broken through, and she’s officially starting to look like buck-toothed Billy.

3.  While you would think that more teeth = more food choices for our meal-loving girl, we’re starting to see signs of picky eating.  Noooo!!!  I cannot have a picky eater!!  I pretty much love anything edible, and I won’t know what to do with a child who turns her nose up at food.

4.  I watch too much reality television.  FACT.  I swear I will not add another Real Housewives of Wherever to my DVR list, but then I do anyway.  FACT.  I do not like the additions to the RHONY cast.  FACT.

5.  Our little girl finally started waving bye-bye!  Oh the little things!!

6.  Blue Moon is the best summer beer fo’ sho’.

7.  This week, when making enchiladas, I accidentally used medium enchilada sauce instead of mild.  I realized that T and I are big fat wusses when it comes to spicy food.

8.  Cameron finally started reciprocating the baby sign language we’ve been doing for the past few months.  So far she does “milk,” “more,” and “all done.”  It’s so cool to see her starting to communicate with us!

9.  I finally finished The Hunger Games series and loved it!  Now, I’m smack dab in the middle of Shades of Grey.  A little late to the party, but WHEW.

10.  I recently decided that I don’t like Cameron’s nursery. L  Obviously we didn’t know what we were having, so we never really went all out in the décor.  But now, I just wish it was better… cuter… for her.  But, since we’re talking about having number two sometime in the near future (God-willing and no, I’m not pregnant yet), it seems silly to redo her entire room when she’ll most likely be getting a new room at some point in the somewhat-near-but-not-at-this-moment-minute.  And, I already know what I want to do for that room.  So, oh well.

11.  I am SO excited that Big Brother starts this week!  (And I’m not scared to admit it!)

12.  I ordered a new Timi and Leslie diaper bag and I cannot WAIT ‘til it gets here!

13.  We’re headed to Atlanta this weekend to visit some of our faves.  While I’m not looking forward to the long road trip, I can’t wait to hang out with said faves and also take CK to her first Braves’ game!

14.  I really like the new Zac Brown Band cd.

15.  We finally bought a baby gate and I can’t believe we waited so long to get it.  Now if only we could get about 5 more… (see #12)

16.  Cameron will stand by herself, without holding onto anything, for many, many seconds.  It terrifies me because it means she’s that much closer to walking… which, you guessed it, terrifies me.

17.  I haven’t had a pedicure since the week after Cameron was born.  I want one.

18.  I dread CK’s monthly photo shoots now because she doesn’t sit still.  While I’m sad that she’s getting closer and closer to her first birthday, I’ll be glad when these photoshoots are DUNZO.  I literally take almost a hundred pictures in hopes of getting one decent shot.  Usually I have T’s help, but yesterday I did it solo.  Once Cameron stood up in the glider and let go of the armrest, chair-surfing, I dropped the camera and called it a day.

19.  I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  I get all into it, then go on a Pinterest strike because it starts to make me feel inadequate… I have all these internet, imaginary plans of crafting/cooking/baking/planning that I’ll probably never accomplish.  Oh, and it drives me crazy when people spell it wrong (Pintrest).  It’s the word “interest”, people, with a “P.”  Get it straight.

20.  Our dog Bailey is doing SO well with Cameron.  Cameron will grab her face/neck/ears/skin/tail and just squeeeeze as hard as she can.  And poor Bailey will just yelp and cry.

21.  Today, CK had her 9 month checkup.  No shots – Woop!  She’s 29” tall (90th percentile) and 19lbs, 14oz (70th percentile).

22.  Oh, and Bailey is NOT as excited about the baby gate as I am.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

40 In, 40 Out

Today our adorable, wild, sweet Cameron Kate is nine months old!  This means she’s officially been on the outside as long as she was on the inside.  Yep, that’s right, 40 weeks in, and now 40 weeks out.  While the 40 weeks of pregnancy felt like foreverrrrrr, the past 40 weeks have FLOWN by.  I have to say that it’s MUCH more enjoyable having her on the outside!  I can’t believe she’ll be a year old in just three months!

 40 Weeks inside!  GEEZ I WAS HUGE!
I went into labor about 12 hours later...
 Our girl, 40 weeks on the outside!
Hold up... You mean I'LL be a year old in just three months?!
 How has it already been 3/4 of a year?!
 Love her sweet face
 Wild child!
 Yes, she's chair surfing, no hands.
 Clap clap for 9 months!
 Love my Cameron Kate, to the moon and back!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Our Love Story

Next Thursday T and I will celebrate 4 years of marriage.  This October, we will celebrate 10 years of being together.  As the days pass by, the way we met and the early days of our relationship become more and more hazy.  Because of this, I decided now was the time to document our love story, how we came to be, so that we never, ever forget…

It was 2002.  I was a sophomore in college at Clemson University.  Majoring in Elementary Education, partying with my sorority sisters, living a messy dorm-room-life, ordering pizza at 3am.  I was a little chubby-ish (25 lbs heavier than I am now… see “ordering pizza at 3am” and “partying” – oh, and I also had an attractive walking boot on my left foot due to a stress fracture…) – but I was living life as a college girl, truly single for the first time in years, and a relationship was not on my list of to-dos.

He was a senior in college at the University of South Carolina-Aiken.  He was two months away from graduating, and came up to Clemson to visit his friend Clay (who happened to be dating my older sister).

It was a Friday night. 

My parents were in town for a big football weekend.  We were part of a crowd at a place called Explorers for a big oyster roast.  It sounds so cheesy, and so cliché, but I will honestly never forget the first time I saw him.  He had his hat on backwards.  Big brown eyes.  Eyelashes for days.


We talked briefly… Interestingly enough, Clay was meeting my parents for the first time.  T was there by happenstance, and was introduced to us rather nonchalantly.  I remember thinking he was incredibly cute, but, as I said earlier, I was not in the mood for boys.

Fast forward to the next day.  Football Saturday.  The plan was to tailgate in front of my sister’s apartment complex, The Ridge, right across from Bowman Field.  I may or may not have put a little extra effort into my appearance and wardrobe choice, even though I swore boys weren’t on my radar.  Though, looking cute with a big black boot on your foot isn’t an easy feat.

I remember hoping he’d join us at the tailgate.  I was so excited when I saw the dimples again!  We talked, and maybe flirted a little bit.  I mentioned to Clay that I thought his friend was cute.

Skip ahead to the post-football-game-fun and somehow we all ended up at Clay’s apartment.  T and I spent quite a long time on the front porch… talking… flirting… me sorta kinda trying not to be seduced by the brown-eye-long-lashes-dimples combo.  But I eventually gave in… especially when he asked me if he could kiss me.

I was a goner.

There was more talking, laughing, kissing.  Totally innocent, nothing inappropriate or 50-Shades-of-Grey-ish.

And then he called me Kristen.

It was funny, actually.  I, jokingly and out of nowhere said, “So, what’s my name?”

When he paused, I thought – oh crap – he’s already forgotten.

He guessed Kristen.  I was – I don’t know – disappointed?  He was, too.  But, I laughed it off, figuring he didn’t even live in town, this was just an innocent night of flirting and kissing, no big deal.

When my friend Brooke and I left the apartment, I remember her telling me, “Jessie, he doesn’t even live here.  Don’t get your hopes up!”  She wasn’t being mean… just realistic.  She knew me – knew how my feelings get the best of me – knew that I didn’t know how to dip my toes in the water, only how to dive in head first.

The next morning – er, early afternoon (it was a late night) – Brooke and I were enjoying Zaxby’s, lying in our dorm room beds, when my phone rang.  It was my sister, asking me to come over to Clay’s apartment before T left to go back home.  I decided to give it a go, just to see if there was any chemistry that existed now that we weren’t caught up in the moment of the 2am moonlight.

And there was. 

There was something about that backwards hat and those big brown eyes.

He asked for my number, and wrote it in pencil on the torn off corner of a piece of newspaper.

That was Sunday afternoon.

I didn’t hear from him that night.

Or all day Monday.

Or Monday night.

Or all day Tuesday.

I started to get mad at myself for even considering that this could turn into something.  Like Brooke had told me, he lived 3 hours away!

But then, he called.

It was a cold-ish, rainy Tuesday night.

We talked for almost three hours.  I don’t even remember what we talked about.  We didn’t even care.  Looking back, I now know that neither of us were looking for someone or even wanted to get into anything serious.  He had just recently gotten out of a very long relationship and I was learning what it meant to be single.  But it was like we couldn’t help it.  Something was just… there.

He told me he was going to come back into town for the NC State football game with his friend Charlie.  I think my heart skipped a beat.  I was so excited, but equally nervous.  Would the attraction still be there?  Would we still have that chemistry?

Would he remember my name?

This is where it gets a little scary – or maybe I’m being dramatic.  But, my friend Brooke and I were at the football game, waiting around for T to show up.  We were standing outside the stadium, and I was smoking a cigarette.  Disgusting, yes.  Like many college-aged girls, I dabbled in this disgusting habit, but it was more of a social, what-the-heck kind of habit rather than an I-have-to-have-one-addiction.  The way T tells the story is that when he spotted us, and saw me smoking, he was thisclose to walking away and I immediately became a lot less attractive.  Smoking disgusted him.  His heart dropped.

And my heart drops when I think about how I could’ve lost it all in that one moment.

But, he decided to give me the benefit of the doubt.  (Thank goodness!)

We had yet another awesome weekend, with hours of conversation, instant chemistry, and everyone remembered everyone’s name.

He may or may not have spent the night in my dorm room.  (Again, totally innocent!)  He may or may not have had to pee in a Mountain Dew bottle in the middle of the night because we were too scared he’d get caught if he went out to the hallway bathroom.  He may or may not have had to jump out of the window in the morning to avoid the front desk get-caught-walk-of-shame.

Again, may or may not have.

From this point forward, there were lots of weekend visits between us.  Me traveling to him, him to me.  Our very first official date was dinner at a Chinese restaurant (Jade of China) and the movies (Jackass… classy, I know).

A relationship that was intended to start slowly took off with warp speed.  There was no denying what was between us.  All day long I’d look forward to our nighttime phone conversations.  This was before everyone in the world had cell phones.  He did not.  So, we only talked once per day, at night, right before we went to bed.  All day long I’d think about things I’d want to tell him, share with him, ask him.  I’d always have little lists, notes scribbled on various post-its so that I wouldn’t forget all the things I wanted to talk to him about when my phone finally rang.

And I remember the exact minute I realized I loved him.

We were on the phone…

T:  “Have you looked at the moon tonight?  It’s awesome!”

Me, lying in bed:  “No, I haven’t…”

T:  “Go look at it!”

Me:  “Ok” --- “Wow!”

T:  “You’re not really looking, are you…”

Me, caught:  “Nope, ok, I’ll get out of bed and really look...” --- walk over to the window, look at the moon, which looks great and all, but…well…looks just like a plain old moon to me. “It is pretty!”

T:  “Look down.”

I look down, and there he is, standing in front of my window.

And in that moment, I fell in love.

He had driven up to surprise me (and gotten two speeding tickets on the way).

And that night, he told me I was beautiful for the first time.

For the first time in my life, I FELT beautiful.

And two months later, on a December night, after we’d finished watching his favorite movie of all time (Shawshank Redemption) and scraped the bottom of our Chinese takeout containers, he finally told me he loved me.

We spent the next two and a half years long distance.  We didn’t know any better, so I think that’s why it worked for us.  We spent a lot of money on gas, put a lot of miles on our cars.  But we were happy.  So happy.  Right before my Senior year, he got a job offer from Wake Forest, and took it.  We were already long distance, so it really didn’t matter.

During my last day as a student teacher, he spent hours at my apartment, packing my things.  As soon as I bid Pendleton Elementary adieu, with both of our cars full of my life, we drove the all-too-familiar-drive to Winston Salem and moved me into my own apartment.  I went back to Clemson for my graduation, of course, but we wanted to be in the same town as soon as we could.  I didn’t care that I didn’t have a job yet.  I wanted to know what it was like to be able to drive 5 minutes to see him, rather than 3 hours.  I wanted to know what it was like to run errands together, grab a quick bite to eat, go to the grocery store, make spontaneous plans.

What was it like?  There are no words.

There’s a simple, somewhat unimportant memory that sticks out.  We were hanging out at his apartment, watching tv, on a random Thursday night.  It was getting late, and I was just about to drive back to my apartment to go to bed.  And he said, “I want some donuts.”  “Me too!” I said.

So we went out, in the pouring down rain, and got a dozen donuts and a box full of donut holes.  And I remember thinking it was so fun to be able to live in the same town and do things like that whenever we wanted.

I got a summer job as a gymnastics coach, and found a teaching job at a great school.  I had broken pretty much every rule I’d ever established for my independent, headstrong, stubborn self and followed a boy, moving to a town where I knew no one but him.

And I was loving every minute of it.

I won’t document the ins and outs of the rest of our relationship.  As I said in the beginning, we’ve been together for almost 10 years now… which is a lot to try to blog about!

But there are a few highlights from our lives together…

The time he surprised me by taking me out on a canoe and giving me a graduation gift – a cruise!  (No need to mention the fact that I thought he was going to propose then, right?)

Our bike rides around Salem Lake, our first child Bailey J, lots of beach trips, tailgating and college football games, playing softball together, many rounds of competitive putt-putt, movie theatre dates, running and working out together, me getting baptized, snorkeling, trips to Atlanta and Braves games, skiing, him using my third grade students to propose to me in my classrooms, buying our first house together, getting married on Trunk Bay in St. John, honeymooning in Jamaica, celebrating our first anniversary in Cabo, months spent trying to get pregnant, getting pregnant, meeting our daughter, and now our adventures as a family of three…

I know our love story has only just begun.  I envision a house full of kids, and a happily chaotic life as husband and wife, dad and mom.  I’m so incredibly fortunate to have married my absolute best friend, my soul mate, my favorite person on the planet.

It’s not always easy… but the things in life worth having never are.

To be continued…