Monday, April 29, 2013

30 Things I've Learned in 30 Years

1. Surprising other people brings me so much joy.

2. Family is everything.

3. I need to run like I need to breathe.  It will always be a part of my self-therapy.

4. I used to watch entirely too much television.

5. No matter what, I’ll never love to cook.

6. You can’t always make everyone happy.

7. You really can love someone so much that it hurts so good.

8. Making lists helps me stay sane.

9. Everyone is not always going to like you.  Be who you are anyway.

10. I am a morning person.

11. The hardest and most rewarding job in the world is being a mama.

12. Patience really is a virtue.

13. It’s about the quality, not the quantity, of your friendships.

14. Country music, red wine, and chocolate are good for the soul.

15. You never know what’s going on in other people’s worlds.  Don’t judge.

16. I’m lucky I survived my high school and college years unscathed.

17. If it weren’t for my mom, I’d be a mess of an adult.

18. Carrying and delivering a child truly is a miracle.

19. Being able to live in the moment is a gift, and something I’m constantly working on.

20. Most of what you worry about never happens.

21. Sunscreen is imperative.

22. Sometimes, it’s okay to go to bed angry.

23. It’s hard not to lose yourself in being a mama.

24. Constantly worrying about what others think is a waste of time.

25. Spontaneity and flexibility are hard, but rewarding.

26. Nothing beats the feeling of having your child fall asleep on your chest.

27. A little mascara goes a long way.

28. Life is too short to spend every day doing something you don’t enjoy.

29.  I cannot always be in control of everything.

30. Happiness is a decision - a state of mind - and it begins with a smile.

How I Ended a Decade

Thanks to my wonderful husband, I spent the last few days of my twenties in one of my most favorite places – the mountains.   

Here is how I ended a decade...
This was our cabin, appropriately called "Birds' Eye View"
A spiral staircase that connected all three levels!

The town of Newland below the mountain!

Even our sweet girl enjoyed the view!

 We drove up to the very top of Grandfather Mountain... These cross-back roads were in Forrest Gump and are featured in many car commercials!

 We drove higher...

 And higher...

 Until we were at the VERY top!  I may or may not have almost peed in my pants... Apparently I'm a teensy bit scared of heights!

 The girl who made me a mama :)

 Time for the mile-high, swinging bridge!

 My heart beats faster just LOOKING at this picture and remembering what it was like to be so high up with my tiny little girl!

 It really is a mile up!

 And who knew time-out even exists on the top of Grandfather Mountain?!

 We learned about Daniel Boone!

 Attempted (unsuccessfully) to take a selfie...

 And bought Cameron her souvenir, Black Bear (AKA "BB"), who she was attached to for the rest of the trip.

 Then, one of my most favorite memories... watching Cameron watch the REAL black bear eat peanuts!

 We went back to the cabin for some mid-day naps, drinks, and a little hide-and-seek.  This was Cameron's favorite hiding spot... It took me FOREVER to find her! :)

 Then it was time to get all dressed up and head to Blowing Rock for some shopping and eating!

 We ate at Bistro Roca, the same restaurant we went to for TJ's 30th birthday!!!

Cheers to 30!

 Virtually impossible to take her picture these days...

 The two people who make this life so beautiful.

 Excuse the sans-make-up look, but one of my favorite memories of the weekend was sitting in the hot tub for hours after Cameron went to bed, just talking and laughing with my favorite guy.

 Cameron and BB were both wiped out after a jam-packed, fun-filled weekend.  It was the perfect send-off for a decade that was full of adventure, a decade that saw me graduate from college, move to North Carolina, become a teacher in my very own classroom, get engaged in that classroom, get married in the Caribbean, buy a house, become Teacher of the Year, get my master's degree, become an aunt, become a Curriculum Coordinator, and give birth to the most incredible little girl.  It's been a beautiful life I feel so undeserving of, and I'm doing my best to soak in each and every moment.  I can't WAIT to see what the next decade has in store... Bring it on, 30's!! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

See Ya Later, 20s

Next time I'm around these parts, I will have bid adieu to my 20s.  

That's right, folks.  I'm officially getting old.

This afternoon, I'm headed on a surprise birthday trip planned by my amazing husband... a three-story cabin on the edge of a mountain, a hot tub, shopping, reservations made for every meal, a zoo, a little mountain hike - the perfect way to ring in the 30s.

I'm so, so blessed to live this life, mostly because I'm married to my very best friend and we have the most incredible daughter.

 I'll be back post-trip with a riveting 30 Things I've Learned in 30 Years post... Until then, see ya later, 20s.  It's been an adventure!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Trying to Choose Hope

I couldn’t decide whether or not to blog about this, because it’s very private and I’m not one to share too many details of my private life.  But, writing is one of my forms of therapy, so even though this is tough to put out there, I know it will be therapeutic.

When you lose a baby, and the world knows, it goes without saying that the world also realizes that you’ll be trying to get pregnant again in the near future.  So I’m in this place right now where I feel like people are constantly waiting for this news from us.  And every time I make an unexpected phone call, or say, “Guess what?!”, I always feel the need to follow with, “I’M.NOT.PREGNANT.”

Trust me, people, if I were in control of the universe, I would have a rounded belly right now, still counting down the days to July 30th, the due date we were so excited about back in November when we saw two promising lines. 

But I’m not in control of a lot of things, much to my dismay. J

There are some people who go off of birth control, have a laid-back, month o’ fun, then BAM they’re pregnant.  There are people who forget a pill or two and end up with those surprising two lines.  And then there are people who calculate timing down to a science, who know TOO much about the human body, and month after month, hold a pee stick up sideways in the light, squinting their eyes to try to imagine a second line.

“It’ll happen when you least expect it.”

“Just relax, have fun.”

“Before you know it, you’ll be pregnant again!”

I understand these words are spoken from a place of kindness, but if one more person says something like this to me they may need to duck.

Y’all – getting your period when you’re trying to get pregnant sucks.  No nicer way to put it.  It’s like, “Hey, guess what, you are NOT pregnant!!!!”

Getting your period month after month after you lose a baby, a baby whose heart you heard beating beautifully inside of you, feels like a kick in the gut.

And it’s easy to feel so hopeless.

And I usually let myself – I let myself feel the sadness, the darkness of what could have and should have been – and then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and no matter how hard it is…

I choose hope.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Halfway Between 1 and 2

Oh my dear, sweet, perfect little girl.

How are you already only six months away from turning 2?!

When I used to get asked the question, “If you could have ONE magic power…” – I would always wish for the ability to fly.  I’d even dream about getting a running start, then soaring high above the trees.  And while I’d love to be able to see this beautiful life from an aerial view, my answer to the magic power question has changed.

You see, my Cameron Kate, I would give anything to have the power to stop time right in its tracks.  To have a pause button on life.  And not because I’m not looking forward to the future – everyday as your mama gets better and better, so I am ALWAYS excited about tomorrow.  But I want a pause button because I want to make sure I’m really able to drink in every ounce of your 18-month-old self.  I want to remember every part of who you are today, I don’t ever want these memories to fade away. 

I want to remember your sweet, sing-songy voice; the way your hand feels when you ask me to hold it; how you try so hard to string words together to make sentences; how you look at us and say “hi” when you know you’re doing something you shouldn’t be; how your head comes up just below my chin when you ask to sit in my lap; how you are so incredibly ticklish on your neck; how you have to kiss Bailey before going to bed and as soon as you wake up; how you make me appreciate all of the little things in life – pointing out every bird who flies in the sky and ever stick that decorates our lawn.

So I feel like if I could just hit pause, I would better remember this time in our lives.  This time that I am so head over heels in love with being a mom – YOUR mom.

Eighteen months is a magical age.  Everyone told me it was special, and now I know they weren’t lying.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tantrums.  Oh the tantrums.  And the attitude.  And the occasional hitting and biting (which you usually do with a sly smile on your face… testing the limits, little stinker).  And how we now have a time-out corner both upstairs and downstairs.  And how many times I pour a glass of wine and take about five deep breaths before I attempt to calm your storm of emotions.  But I do get it – tantrums are inevitable and it’s how your eighteen-month-old little body reacts to a hurricane of feelings.

Regardless, though, every other part of your year-and-a-half personality more than makes up for the trying times.  You, my bug, are the sweetest, silliest, most adventurous, smartest, most beautiful little girl I have ever known.  I am so proud of the little person you are becoming.

You just had your well checkup – you’re officially 25 lbs, 2 oz (60th percentile) and 33.5” tall (95th percentile).  Your pediatrician, Dr. Barry, adores you.  I can see it in her eyes.  Especially when she walked into the room and you said, “Hi Docka Bawwy.”  You had her wrapped around her finger in an instant, an affect you have on most people.

Your language development has literally exploded.  The questionnaire for your well checkup asked if you were saying 10-15 words… your dad and I joked that you know 10-15 body parts!  We tried to count – you literally say at least 100 words, and I am not exaggerating or bragging.  (Of course, I think you’re brilliant!)  I say all this because there was a time during which I was a little concerned about your verbal development.  But now you are off the charts.  I’ll never forget the first time you strung together two words – “Bye bye, Bay-yee” when I was hanging up the phone with MY mama, your “Bammy.”  And I’ll also never forget the time you woke up one morning and all of a sudden started saying three-word phrases, your first of which was, “Diaper.  Poop.  Shooo-weee!”  You haven’t stopped talking since.  (I wonder where you get that from?!)

You say most words well, but there are a few exceptions where you have your own interpretations, and I love them.  For example, you call yourself “KK.”  Your water is “yaya,” – always has been, and I wonder if one day you’ll be thirty years old asking a waiter for yaya with lemon in Applebees.  You are OBSESSED with “pit-a-boo,” love your new “Daisy DUCK” from Grammy and PaPa, and love “Bay-Bay” (Bailey) more than life itself.  In fact, when you wake up in the mornings, one of the first things you say is, “Bay-Bay kiss?”

You also know ALL of your classmates’ and teachers’ names.  When I pick you up from school, we often have to stand there and say bye to every single child.  “Bye bye, Joseph!  Bye bye, Nora!” and on and on and on.  You love school and love your teachers, especially Miss Erica.  She calls you her little sidekick. 

I recently had my first parent/teacher conference.  I’ve had many of these as a teacher, but this was my first as a parent.  Your teachers say you’re doing great, always a big helper, and developmentally beyond your age.  However, the thing they said that stuck with me most was that you are very motherly.  That when kids are upset, you’re the first one to walk over and offer them a hug, or even hand them your beloved Melvin.  When they told me that, I thought my heart was going to explode.

Speaking of Melvin, he and Ellie are still probably your favorite “friends.”  But there’s a new kid on the block – Brownie – a pink dog (go figure) who helped you stay calm during your big girl checkup this week.  When you go to sleep at night, you have about nine stuffed animals you HAVE to sleep with.  A lot of times, when we put you in your crib, we’ll watch you on the monitor while you play and hug and kiss and giggle with your friends before eventually lying down, inevitably with one under your head like a pillow, and one under each arm.

As awesome as it is to watch and listen to you drift off to sleep, it’s not so awesome to greet you in the mornings.  You are usually G.R.U.M.P.Y.  When you wake up from nighttime sleep and naps, it takes you a long time to come around.  Your dad will agree with me when I say you get this trait from him.

Speaking of sleep, you take one nap a day – this nap is usually decent at school, ranging from one to two hours… but not so much at home.  You’ll usually only give us forty minutes, on the dot.  As tough as it is sometimes to only have a quick break from your boundless energy, I usually embrace the extra face-time we have, since I feel so absent from your life as a full-time working mama.  Good news is, hopefully the whole full-time working mama thing will be changing soon.

You’ve become even pickier in your eating habits, which “Docka Bawwy” says is quite typical for your age.  Most nights you go to bed without even a bite of dinner.  You love peanut butter, hummus, oranges, crackers, and any kind of sweet.  You mostly love WHATEVER your dad and I are eating.  If we’re eating something, we’d better be ready to share.

Anytime we’re in the kitchen cooking, you have to cook, too.  You’ll pull out the pots and pans and spoons, and slave away.  I honestly think you believe you’re contributing!  Hopefully this means you’ll be better in the kitchen than I am.   In fact, you LOVE pretend play.  Anything where you’re acting something out, pretending to bathe your babies, feed your dogs, having a tea party, etc…  I love watching that imagination grow!  Mostly, though, you love being “oww-side.”  Other than asking if you can give Bailey a kiss in the morning, your other most popular request is if you can immediately go outside the moment I turn on your bedroom light.  Now that the weather is nice, we try to spend a large part of each day in the backyard, on the back porch, out at the fields at Wake, or, your favorite, at the “pay-goun.”

You also love Kindermusik!  We go on Monday nights, and it’s one of my favorite things to do with you.  It’s so, so fun, and I really think it’s helping you absolutely flourish.

You definitely have a fearful side these days – we’ve been battling bath phobia on and off for months.  One day you’ll cry if we even say the word “bath,” and other days you’ll cry when it’s time to get out.  It’s a mystery to us!  You also have quite a bit of both stranger and separation anxiety.  It, too, comes and goes.  Most days, you prefer being a mama’s girl. 

And truth be told, I love being your number one.

One day, my sweet girl, you’ll know what this love feels like.  A love that hurts so good.  While I do wish I had that pause button, I also dream of the day when your own daughter is placed in your arms – because then, Cameron… then you’ll know that I really mean it when I say that you are the sunshine in my life, the best part of my day, my heart beating on the outside of my body.

Happy half-birthday, Cameron Kate.  I love you to the moon and back and more than anything in this world.



Monday, April 8, 2013

Our Spring Break, in Pictures

We had a great week taking a break from the normalcy of life, and I thought the best way to document our week o' fun would be through pictures.  So sit back, relax, and relive our spring break 2013...

We enjoyed lazy mornings on the couch...

We enjoyed insisting on wearing too-big shoes and sitting on the potty with Brownie, one of her new favorite friends.

We surprised Daddy at work and spent a fun afternoon out on the field behind his office building!

We made "chocy-chit" cookies from scratch...
And waited patiently while they cooked in the oven.
Don't knock her rat tail.

We had so much fun at a local church's Easter festival with - who else - our Yinds.

I celebrated the last single days of my good friend, Rea... So excited about her wedding this weekend!

We ventured to Burlington to visit Grammy and PaPa Peele for Easter, which included...

LOTS of giggles playing peek-a-boo with PaPa...
Having fun at a park...
Dying Easter eggs with Grammy...
And celebrating Jesus and the true meaning of Easter!
 With, of course, another Easter egg hunt.  She would've hunted for Easter eggs all day if food and naps and clean diapers and bedtimes weren't necessities.

We spent a lot of time in our jammies...

We spent a little time being a moody toddler.

We took part in Cameron's favorite new pastime, visits to the "pay-goun."

We headed to Fort Mill to visit "Bts" and "Raw-yee"...
 And Aunt Lu...
 And their awesome "pay-goun."
 I even had a couple launch events for my new business, which is doing GREAT!!

This Dada got even more wrapped around this little girl's finger.

We visited some of my oldest, best friends from high school and got the kiddos together!

We battled some incoming teeth, which led to my sweet CK falling asleep mid-snack-cup-reach during a run in the stroller.

We spent lots of time playing hide-and-seek, no clothes required.

We cleaned.

We ate with our feet on the table.

We played with "Bay Bay."

We played peek-a-boo (or, as Cameron says, "peach-a-boo") over, and over, and over.

We colored.

We read lots of books with Bammy when she came to visit.

Bammy even conducted the Cameron Express!

 We spent lots of time on the "wing."

 And had picnics.

And ventured back to Fort Mill for a quick visit with Uncle Dame and Aunt Jamie!

 We attempted to get a picture of the three stooges.

 And we even dug in the dirt.

 By the end of the week, we were EXHAUSTED!

 It was jam-packed, challenging at times, full of giggles, so fun, and even emotional as I spent every second with my girl and realized how quickly (too quickly!) she's growing up.  I swear overnight she decided to grow an inch of hair and an inch of height and start speaking in three-word sentences.  She is my mini-me and I am loving being her mama.  And even when I spend all day everyday by her side, it STILL doesn't feel like enough time.

The countdown to summer is officially ON!