Thursday, January 31, 2013

2 Years Ago Today...

Two years ago today, our lives changed.  I walked out of the bathroom early on a Monday morning, holding a stick with two pink lines.  Two pink lines that promised a future full of more joy than I could have ever imagined.

And here we are, almost 16 months later, with a little girl who makes me want to be a better person, who makes me want to try to make this world a better place, who literally makes my heart want to explode.

I will never, ever, EVER forget how I felt on that cold January morning.  As much as I WANTED to see those two pink lines, I had no clue what they really meant... They meant the start of a lifetime of worry, knowing what it feels like to have your heart walk around outside of your body, and finally learning what it means to love unconditionally, to love so much it physically hurts.

Those two lines meant the beginning of the best part of my life... Being a mama.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It Still Hurts

I get up every morning, so excited to go into Cameron's room, pick her up, and feel her nuzzle her head into the space between my neck and my shoulder.  My heart is so full when she pats my back and says, "Mama."  I cannot stop smiling when she runs over to me, giggling, arms spread open for me to scoop her up and drink in her joy.

But yesterday, I felt so empty.  I pulled up to my doctor's office for my post-D&C checkup, and I couldn't get out of the car.  My breaths came in fast-paced spurts, my heart raced, and then I saw a pregnant, beaming couple walk out of the office.  A knot filled up my throat and a tear rolled down my cheek.

It's been five weeks.

And it still hurts.

It hurts to look down and see my stomach, which should have a hint of a bump by now.  It hurts to imagine counting down the days 'til Cameron would be a big sister.  It hurts to think that I SHOULD be in my second trimester, missing deli meat and red wine and long runs.

It still hurts.

My heart is so full of love for the life I have with my husband and precious CK, and so empty with the could-have-should-have-beens.

I have many good days, many days filled with smiles and laughter, only mildly interrupted with the ache of my heart.  But I still have bad days.  Days like today, when I feel so scared.  And so sad, and worried.  And so empty.

Because it still hurts.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It Really Was In My Underwear

The other morning as I got ready to head to work (late), I was standing in my bathroom trying to make my mop of wet hair presentable while a shall-otherwise-remain-nameless toddler screamed and cried and pulled on my pant legs and pitched an absolute fit because I would not pick her up at that very moment.

I wrestled her off my legs, gave her lots of slobbery kisses goodbye, she gave my neck the best kind of tight squeeze, and I managed to make it to work at 8:02am (only two minutes late - yippee!).  As I sat down at my desk I noticed a white, crusted stain on my grey, just-washed work pants.  After wracking my brain for what could have stained my pants in the thirty minutes since I'd zipped them up, I realized that it was snot.

Yes, folks, the snot of my shall-otherwise-remain-nameless toddler who had been hanging like a chimpanzee off of my leg only moments earlier.

And then I realized I hadn't blogged much lately on what life has been like with a toddler.  A toddler who leaves snot stains on your freshly washed work pants to remind you all day long that you're a mama.

I guess I should also mention that the VERY next day I found a Cheerio in my underwear.  No joke.  One lone Cheerio.  Before you let your mind wander, my honest guess for how it ended up in my underwear is that Cameron had been eating a snack cup of Cheerios that morning, and when I was holding her I remember her putting one down my shirt.  In the midst of wrestling her mid-tantrum, I forgot to find said Cheerio and somehow it ventured down into my drawers.

And I have to admit, when I went to the bathroom, it scared me a little bit when I pulled down my pants and saw a Cheerio.

Anyway, all of this is to say that life with a toddler is crazy in the best possible way.  As a matter of fact, at CK's well checkup last week, her doctor said, "So, how is everything going with a 15-month-old?"  "Well..." I smiled, "It's... interesting.  Hilarious and entertaining and so fun, but exhausting and hard and a constant test of my patience."  "Sounds about right," she replied.

Well, at least we're right on track developmentally!

In all honesty, Cameron Kate is incredible.  And though we've had some days that truly test my ability to remain calm and patient, I wouldn't trade it for the world.  And if I continue to be honest, losing our baby last month has probably helped me appreciate every single ounce of motherhood even more - from Cheerios in my underwear to snot stains on my nice pants.

Our little girl is growing, growing, growing.  She's now 24 pounds (60th percentile) and 32 inches long (90th percentile).  And we finally have enough hair to give her a tiny little ponytail. (!!)

Developmentally, she's reaching milestones far beyond her age.  (HA!  I had to put that... doesn't EVERY parent think her child is a genius?!)  No, really though, I think she's doing great.  We all know she's been walking running for awhile, and now she'll climb anything and everything (even my legs, obviously).  But her vocabulary has increased tremendously over the past couple of months.  I'm not sure if it's a result of her ear tube surgery, or just a part of her development, or a combination of both - but I love it.  I love hearing her sweet voice, watching her try to copy me as I teach her words, watch her "read" books aloud.  Some of my favorite words she says now are -- mama, bye bye, jacket, cat, quack quack, water, snack, please, up, down, Elmo, spoon, teeth, Abby, big bird, shoes, hat, PaPa, Digby, Raleigh, and boo boo.  And these are just a few!  I swear it seems like just yesterday I was practically doing back flips to get her to say mama.

With the awesome-ness of developmental milestones comes the difficult-ness.  We have officially entered the age of meltdowns and tantrums.  Like full-on throwing herself on the floor and screaming if you put Corn Flakes in her snack cup when she really wants Cheerios.  Or completely melting down if she says, "Up!" with her arms raised above her head, and you cannot pick her up at that exact moment.  And don't get me started about her saying, "please" over and over and over again.  Yes, it's great that we're teaching our child good manners -- the problem is that now she thinks she gets what she wants whenever she says please!

Usually, I find the meltdowns to be funny.  How can you not laugh when a two-and-a-half-foot-tall adorable mess is falling apart on the floor over Corn Flakes?  (Unless, of course, you're in the middle of Olive Garden.)  And also, I know tantrums are a good sign (so says my doctor!) that she's right on track developmentally.  After all, this is the way toddlers handle frustration and the inability to express their emotions appropriately.  However, I'd be lying if I said that I don't take a lot of deep breaths lately.  Or count to ten.  Or pour a second third glass of wine.

But I still do think life with my sweet girl gets better everyday.  With the trying parts of toddler development comes the opportunity to watch her grow into a little girl right before my very eyes.  A little girl with big brown eyes, a smile that can light up a room, giggles that make your heart want to explode, a huge heart, and a wicked sense of humor.  Here are just a few of my favorite things going on with Cameron Kate these days:

~When Cameron wants to tell you something, she looks right at you, grabs on to you, and says the word over, and over, and over again, with such conviction.  Her eyes get real big and her voice gets louder and she'll keep on repeating the word until you let her know you understand, usually by repeating the word back to her.

~She loves to give kisses, but sometimes she'll look at you and say, "Bite?" and go in for a kiss/bite - And I'll say, "No bite, just kiss" - And then she'll say, "kiss" and give you a big, slobbery, open-mouthed smooch.

~She’s learning how to feed herself with spoons and forks and she gets so proud of herself when the food makes it to her mouth!

~Cameron loves to climb on top of things, look at you with her mischievous grin, and say, "no no no" and then giggle.  It is adorable and so funny and I have such a hard time keeping a straight face when I really am trying to teach her the word "no"!

~She LOVES books.  I hope this never changes!

~Cameron dances every time she hears music.  If she sees you dancing, she will run over with her arms in the air and say, "Up!" and will insist that you pick her up and dance with her.

~She loves to be spun around and around and around in your arms.

~Every time she sees a beer bottle, she points to it and says, “Mama!”  (Seriously.)

~Cameron would rather be outside than inside, all day long.

~She loves shoes - her shoes, my shoes, T's shoes.

~While she is still a wild little girl, Cameron is definitely becoming more of a "girly girl."  She used to love to be flipped upside down and thrown around.  Now she gets really scared and shy and cries when she's afraid.  And other than her shoe obsession, she also loves to put on scarves and jewelry.  Though she thinks every piece of jewelry is a "na-na" (translation:  necklace).

~Her favorite foods right now are quesadillas, Cheerios of any variety (obviously), bananas, ravioli, eggs, and cheese.

~She HAS to sleep with her "friends" - Ellie, Nuzzle the dog, and, you guessed it, Melvin.

~She has to have her snack cup full of cereal as soon as she wakes up in the mornings.

~She loves Elmo.

~She takes one nap in the middle of the day, which usually ranges from forty minutes to an hour and a half.

~She is very grumpy when she wakes up, and it takes her awhile to come out of her post-sleep funk.

~She has all eight front teeth, her two top molars have finally broken through, and her two bottom molars are on the way in.

~Cameron's teachers say she's the best little helper, always helping to put things away and put toys back in baskets.

~She still has some stranger/separation anxiety.  She gets nervous and sticks to me like glue when someone other than mama/daddy comes around, and she will immediately start crying if we walk into an unfamiliar place and we try to put her down (because she thinks we're going to leave her).

~She is a MAMA'S GIRL right now.  And I know it's just a phase, but I'm loving every minute of it. :)

Cameron continues to make each day better than the last.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again - having a child makes every morning feel like Christmas.  When she wakes up, I am still SO excited to go in and see her.  And every morning I wonder what she'll do differently... if she'll say a new word, if she'll reach a new milestone.  And I really and truly try to capture each day in my heart as a memory, because I'll never get these days back.  And each night, when T, Cameron, and I say our family prayers, I always thank God for choosing ME to be HER mama.  She is the best thing I've ever done, and I am so, so proud of the little girl she's becoming. 

Especially lately – but always – she is my sunshine.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2 Souls, 1 Heart

Within the span of forty-eight hours, my mother-in-law, Sandy, had to say goodbye to both her mama and daddy.  Yes... you read that right... they BOTH passed away within two days of each other (Papaw Bill on Saturday, Granny Cox on Monday).

When I heard the news, I immediately said a prayer.  A prayer for Granny Cox and Mr. Bill, a prayer for Sandy and her broken heart, a prayer for her sister, a prayer for my father-in-law and his strength, a prayer for T and my sisters-in-law.  And then I squeezed my husband as tight as I could and said, "I hope we go like that.  I hope we can live a long, beautiful, full life together like they did - soulmates, best friends - have kids, and grandkids, and great-grandkids.  And then disappear in the quiet of a restful sleep, walking hand-in-hand through the gates of Heaven, knowing we'd be together eternally."

How beautiful is it to think of them - 2 souls, 1 heart - SO deeply connected and SO spiritually bonded that they left this earth together.  Granny Cox always told my mother-in-law she was so worried about what would happen to Papaw Bill once she'd passed.  And what do you know, he left us first, to undoubtedly get all gussied up, make sure their dog Princess was in tow, and welcome Granny with open arms, like, "There you are!  I've been waiting for you.  And you have NOTHING to worry about."

If, for some reason, you ever doubted - surely Granny Cox and Mr. Bill will restore your faith in God and in the power of true love.

To Granny Cox - though we were only able to be together a few times, I always felt so loved by you and like one of your own grandchildren.  I can still hear your sweet voice and will forever lock it up in my mind to bring a smile on a troubled day.
Granny Cox and Me, 2008
To Mr. Bill - we never did get to meet in person, but I've always loved and respected the man I know you to be.  I look forward to meeting you one day when I know you'll welcome the rest of us with open arms.

And to Sandy - I love you and am so, so sorry for your hurting heart.  I know you are at peace with the fact that your parents are together, in an amazing place, but I also know they will be fiercely missed.  Their legacy will live on through you, as you are a shining example of just how incredible they were.

Two souls, one heart, together eternally in a place beyond our deepest comprehension, beyond our wildest dreams.  xo.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Far from Perfect

I feel like in today's social-media-crazed society - a society dominated by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogs, and Pinterest - people have a tendency to put on a "my life is perfect" facade. All too often I see posts on Facebook summarizing a person's day - "Well, today I cooked three homemade meals and cleaned the house and made cakepops for my toddler's class and mowed the grass and did the laundry and sewed something I found on Pinterest and pretty much saved the world all while my toddler played and giggled contently in the next room."

And I'm over here all excited and proud of myself for remembering to brush my teeth and not nag my husband for 24 hours.

My life is far from perfect, and I hope I never come across that way - Especially when most nights we're dealing with something like this:


Yesterday at 11:21am (I know because I looked at the clock to try to trap the moment inside of my heart), perfect was happening in my kitchen. There were pots and spatulas on the floor where Cameron had been playing, dirty dishrags on a counter stained with sticky remnants of breakfast, and we were all three STILL in our pajamas. T had pulled up some music on the computer, and we stopped everything to have a 3-person dance party right in the middle of our messy kitchen. Cameron's giggles erupted from the depths of her belly, and T and I were both smiling ear-to-ear, dancing and bouncing and clapping and running around...

And it was my definition of perfect.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Well, I guess I should start with HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I’m sure blogs across America are highlighting each writer’s resolutions and hopeful plans of becoming a better human.  And I, too, have my own resolutions in mind – though I’ve chosen to keep them close to my heart this year as I strive for better-ness.  I did go back and read last year’s post at this time, and I must say that I’m proud of my progress this year with my 2012 resolutions.  I’m far from being the person I want to be, but I think I made some significant gains in terms of not sweating the small stuff, being more spontaneous, and soaking in my job as a wife/mama.  And wow, looking back at that post makes me realize how far we’ve come as a family of three!  Last year at this time I was only two months into this whole mama gig, and while I still feel like a beginner, I’m much more comfortable in my mom jeans these days. J

So anyway, in honor of the traditional New Year’s Eve countdown, I thought I’d highlight ten of my favorite 2012 memories, in no particular order…

10.  My family’s first annual Christmas in July!  From the Christmas decorations, to the pool, to the bounce house, to lots of food and drinks, to a back porch late night jam session, to a crazy card game, to the wonderful chaos that ensues when my entire family gets together, it was an unforgettable weekend.

9.  The births of my niece, Raleigh, and my nephew, Smith!  Two beautiful, perfect additions to our family.  Two babies who we’ve waited our whole lives to meet!  If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love my job as an aunt. J

8.  Starting our own holiday traditions!  From traveling to the mountains to cut down our own tree, to lunch at the Daniel Boone Inn, to spending Christmas morning with our little family of three, to eating Christmas dinner in our own home, it was a wonderful holiday season.

7.  An entire week at the beach with Linds, Clay, Banks, and Raleigh!  We had an awesome vacation from start to finish filled with memories I’ll forever cherish.

6.  Cameron’s first birthday celebrations (minus the whole ankle ordeal).  Birthdays have always been a big deal in my family, and there’s nothing like making your own child feel SO special.  While she obviously doesn’t understand the concept of birthdays yet, Cameron definitely knew it was a very special day for her.

5.  A new, incredible friendship.  You know who you are.  I’m honored to be a part of your life.

4.  My first Mother’s Day.  It was perfection, a day spent with my little family at the zoo.  One of my favorite days of 2012.

3.  The summer in general.  This was my first summer as a mama, and it was my best yet.  From lazy pajama days, to countless trips to the pool teaching our little girl to swim, to backyard cookouts, to morning runs, to late afternoon walks, to T's softball games, to spending hours with Cameron in the baby pool on the back porch – this summer filled up my heart with SO much joy.

2.  Moving my older sister’s family to Charlotte!  Obviously we’re very close to the Lutons, especially since my hub and brother-in-law were best friends in high school… so spending a weekend moving them just an hour and a half away from us was a huge event this year.

1.  My little sister getting engaged!  I’ll never forget the phone call, the excitement in her voice – I mean I could HEAR her smiling.  The festivities have only just begun with dress shopping and wedding planning… And I must say, there’s just something about your baby sister getting MARRIED that pulls on your heartstrings, ya know?

So here’s to 2013… I’m sure there will be plenty of ups and downs, lessons learned, successes and failures, gains and losses.  But through it all I hope I can always remember to enJOY.