Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Hope She Always Builds

Instagram has long been my true social media love. Unfortunately for this space, another name for Instagram is "abbreviated blogging." In full disclosure, I have copy and pasted a recent Instagram post below, because I want it to be saved here with all of the other memories from the last five-ish years. I solemnly swear that I will do better as dedicating time to sharing and writing more words than in an Instagram caption.

Shared on March 23, 2017:

I hope she always builds.
Builds others up.
Builds her own confidence.
Builds creatively.
Builds upon a foundation of acceptance, love, and fairness.
Builds a strong will and a soft heart.
Builds a wide web of loved ones.
Builds (and moves) mountains.
Builds a purposeful life with fun and adventure.

Keep building, little one. The world is yours!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why I Need to Embrace Toddler Fearlessness

[Alternative title: Wise Words from My Dad]

Do any of you toddler parents out there ever feel like slamming your head on the table out of frustration that your kid continues to do something that already caused them injury? Lately, I've found myself wondering, Why are you doing that again? Why are you not learning your lesson? That is dangerous! "Dangerous" is a word that Presley hears more than a handful of times every week.

"Please do not run with that in your hand. That is dangerous."
"Pres, please do not climb on the table. You might get hurt. That is dangerous."
"Please step away from the oven. It's hot and could cause an 'ouch.' Dangerous."
"Presley, dangerous. We do not want you to pull on that. We want you to be safe."

It's exhausting. Over the holidays, she fell backward while standing on a chair and hit her head pretty hard on the floor. She also fell off the couch and busted her lip. This past week she was sitting on top of the two-tier cat perch, and all I could do was look at my husband and say, "I can't watch her do that. She's making me too nervous." Her new favorite thing is climbing over things head-first: her miniature couch, piles of pillows, off the bed.

I was talking with my parents this weekend on FaceTime. Pres donned her favorite pink skirt over her pajamas and was running laps around the family room as her screams and laughs echoed through the house. Unable to ignore the background noise and flashes of pink that kept sweeping through the room, my dad said, "She has so much energy!" He thought back to our visit to San Diego last month and added, "When we were at the zoo, she could have played for hours. Up and down, and up and down!"

I gave them a bug-eyed look and said, "It's exhausting, because she has no fear. She can fall off a chair, bang her head, sob uncontrollably for ten minutes, and then she's back up on the chair two minutes after that. It's maddening! I don't want her to be that fearless. Sometimes, a little bit of fear can be good, because it helps us create boundaries." Right?

My wise dad said, "But do you know what that is? The thing that makes her so fearless? Confidence -- that you probably passed on to her. Think about it. When she puts her mind to something, she will do it until she succeeds. She's not afraid that she fell once. She knows deep down that she can do it, so she'll try it again." This, guys. This. [Editor's Note: I will venture to say that my husband is a more confident, sure-footed individual than me, but yes, she is a product of us both.]

I was completely humbled as a parent, because he gave me a completely different perspective on how toddlers operate and learn. I was so concerned that she couldn't get it through her thick skull that being too adventurous might injure her, and then in swoops my dad who reminded me that she is in constant exploration of her world and fueled by confidence. While I can't help being cautious, he has reminded me to reshape my thinking and wrap my head around what her world looks and feels like and to celebrate her adventurous side instead of always wanting her to play it safe, stay in line, and make parenting easier for us. By embracing her fearlessness now, I can help build her confidence... forever. (Wow, this parenting thing can feel heavy, sometimes!)

So cheers to my dad! He is proof that being goofy, cautious, and wise are not mutually exclusive.
Thanks for everything you taught and continue to teach me, Dad!
Happy birthday!

Friday, January 13, 2017

We Bought a House

In July, S found a new listing on Zillow.com that said "Coming Soon." I fully trust his judgment, so when he said, "Come here. You have to look at this!" with a telling grin, I was sitting on the couch and staring at this MacBook faster than I could say "Get me the hell out of this terrible rental house." I can't say for sure, but I think I actually gasped and awwww'ed. It was a yellow house. A yellow house with a wrap-around porch, and I wanted it. With the clatter of a keyboard, he soon had confirmation of our appointment to view it.

We went, we saw, and we offered what they were asking. Hey-ooooooo! We were the first to see it, and by the grace of all that is holy, not only did they accept -- they turned down requests to view from other buyers. Evidently, they are crazy, because we are certain that other buyers would have offered more, but let's not harp on (read: draw too much attention to) that. It was no secret that we loved it. We swooned audibly and asked questions about why they designed their retirement "forever home" this way and that way. I snapped photo after photo, knowing that we would be savoring the details when we went back to our now-excruciatingly-crummy rental. We learned about their family and told them about our desire to raise Presley with space to run, explore, and grow. They treated her like one of their grandchildren and didn't bat an eye when she pulled out every Cottage Journal so neatly staged in a magazine holder or kept finding her way back to the stone knick knack that fit so perfectly into her little hand. (Meanwhile, I used my best Sweet Mommy That Means Business tone to prevent possible destruction from Hurricane Presley.) Two and a half hours and one earnest money check later, we had a sleeping child in a car seat and the urge to pack and move. But we needed to wait until they finished building their new home months later.

Two days later, the world stopped, and I had a husband in a hospital. I went from browsing photos of our beloved yellow house to giving our immediate family e-mail and phone updates about his condition. And crying a lot. At one point, I said to my dad, "... and now we probably won't be able to get the house, because we have no idea how much all of this is going to cost." He knew I didn't mean to sound so heartless and reminded me that health and family comes before all else, which I knew. Of course! In hindsight, I think that saying something like that was my way of forcing myself to overlook my way-overboard fear that he may not come home. By saying it, I was telling myself, Obviously, he's fine. Our next big conversation over washing and drying dishes will be about the house. My dad left it at, "We'll just see what happens. There are definitely other houses."

Months went by. They included recovery, healing, visits from my MIL and sister, returning to work, and mini Presley firsts (going down a slide, signing "stop," skipping, eating quinoa). All the while, we never halted the buying process or even told the sellers what happened. By the time they saw us again in September, he was the same smiling man with fewer pounds and a ship-shape heart.

In October, the house was officially ours.

In November, we moved in and prepared for remodeling, which was then postponed until the last week of January. We spent our holidays nuzzled by green walls (that are so not "us") without light switch faceplates and stacks of unpacked boxes. The only room that is nearly complete is Presley's room save for a set of white curtains.  The waiting is starting to catch up with me, but the point is that we're here. We are here in our yellow house and ready to strip away its very *ahem* brightly colored layers and make it our own in 2017. I love it, even in its current state of disarray, mostly because it is wonderful to know that this is Presley's home that she'll grow in.

Home sweet home! (Photos of the transformation to come over the next several months!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 in Review

Instagram #2016BestNine

With a grand total of seven blog posts last year, it is a safe to say that 2016 was the year of my Instagram, which received much more of my attention. I love Instagram, because it reminds me of the very, very old days of Facebook back when your friends only posted photos of things happening in their lives -- long before it was the open forum of memes, viral videos, and a hot bed of political debate. (Ya feel me?) I continued to share on Instagram throughout the year, but it felt too daunting to type our stories. Unfortunately, it means that I never typed our stories. I'm committing myself to blogging and storytelling again in 2017. Even more than simply documenting stuff that we do, I want to record stories to pass down to Presley. More than the what. The how and the why.

However, I wanted to give a quick nod to 2016 and the things it brought.

Moved to Nashville.
Terrible rental management company didn't clean the house, and we were mad.

Presley started walking.
She turned one!
MIL and S's nephew visited.
Sign language really started paying off.

First of my overnight business trips for me.
Though I fought it since pregnancy, I learned that pink was/is Presley's favorite color during a trip to Target. (Humble thyself in the name of parenthood.) One of her most prized possessions is a pink tulle skirt that she chose. Think I'm kidding? Well, I'm not.
Presley said her first word: Wow!

Basically, nothing big happened.

Celebrated five years of marriage with pizza in a parked car with a sleeping baby and grinning glances at my honey through the rear view mirror.
One of my best friends visited from Boston.

Work was busy! Business trips every week.

Presley self-weaned out of nowhere, and nursing was suddenly a thing of the past. (I was bummed!)
Hospital visits.
My first ever full nights and full days alone with Presley.
Nashville Zoo.
Uplifted by two selfless friends (and their baby son!) who dropped everything to take care of Presley and me.

Struggled to balance work, S's recovery, and school (but came through with an A-!) and decided to take a break from my MBA program until January.
Sister met Presley, who took to her instantly.
Visit from MIL.
Donated my hair.

Visit from S's sister, her boyfriend, and niece.
Turned one year closer to mid-30s.
First time Presley played with a big kid. It melted our hearts. A girl named Leonora kind of took Presley under her wing during a birthday party at a local pizza place. Presley loved it!
Officially sorted into Ravenclaw. <-- Yes, that is noteworthy.

Tried out a church.
Spent half a day at Gentry's Farm here in Nashville to celebrate fall.
Visit from MIL and BIL.
Did a lot of cleaning at the new house.
Halloween night was a blast!

Did even more cleaning at the new house.
Moved into our new house!
Tried potty training on Thanksgiving weekend. It was a bust. We confused intelligence with readiness, and she was not having it.

Presley's first airplane trip.
Visited family and friends in San Diego.
Springing my first real surprise!
Scored a free play kitchen for Presley, thanks to my frugal, internet-savvy self.
Said farewell to my work mentor who had such a huge impact on my career and life.
Enjoyed a Christmas morning that was far more entertaining and engaging than last year. (22 months old vs. 10 months old)
Rang in the new year with a sleeping child, a sleeping husband, and two sleeping cats. #PartyAnimals

2016, you brought a lot to the table. Some things are fine being left behind and many others we hope to see more of this year. Like the blog subtitle says: When you keep a pretty blog, because real life feels like a hot mess.

Here's to doing things I love, getting back to community, and typing words that matter in this little space. Happy New Year!