Monday, September 19, 2016

Begin Again

*tap, tap*

Is this thing still on? If anyone still checks in on this place, I'm amazed and excited.

Hi! Hello. So... it's been over six months. I've missed this space. More so, I've missed the connection that comes with a blog. For four years, I was so accustomed to documenting life here. Along the way, others chimed in and friendships were built through e-mails, social media, texting, phone calls, Skype/FaceTime, and meeting in person. I want to print a hard copy of this blog for myself, because I love the memories that live here -- both the actual words on the page and the feelings that come with reading them.

After we moved to Nashville and I started my new job, I really needed to hunker down and focus on work, school, and family. I planned to take a few weeks off the blog, and then the return date just kept getting pushed out more and more. I've been hoping that the new blog design that was so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed back in April wouldn't lose its luster over time. Fortunately, I still think she's a looker! (I had the space revamped for a return, complete with new photo, and then what did I do? I chopped my hair off last month, so now the photo is outdated. You win some; you lose some.) The tagline couldn't have summed up the last six months any better: "When you keep a pretty blog, because real life feels like a hot mess."

Presley is a very different little human than the one pictured in the last blog post (titled "Sweet P: One Year Old!"). She not only walks but runs. She is expressive and has a really great sense of humor. She has a deeper sense of self and makes her wants known. She took swim lessons in the spring and seemed to like it but not for the full duration of the class. She is extremely kind, loving, and helpful. She wears pigtails, shakes her hips, and blows her nose into Kleenex. I haven't rocked her to sleep for about a month, because she willingly kisses me good night and signs "I love you" from her crib as I walk to the door, turn off the light, and sign it back to her with a smile. We still get googly eyes for our little girl almost every day, and we probably will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. A few weeks ago, we made eyes at each other as we watched her from across the room while she hummed the "ABCs" and pressed the buttons on her toy phone. I mouthed to him, "We made that!"

There have been many times this year that I've found myself trying to make sense of adult things like stock grants, credit scores, house hunting, and budgeting. The most notable adult matter was in July when we were faced with a very real and shocking situation that briefly haunted us with thoughts of our family of three becoming a family of two. Our world was flipped more than once, but we all made it off the roller coaster! We kept our sanity in tact through good ol' team work and with thanks to the small few who were in the know and supported us in the dearest of ways. (Also, an active, growing toddler is an excellent distraction.) All that matters is health and love, and we've got both, baby!

The truth is that I've needed this space--to share stories, to make sense of things, and to connect with those who have walked a mile in the same shoes (and maybe commiserate a little?). Some of my "blogger friends" no longer blog, but it's still a community I really love (and missed).

Happy to be back. Can't wait to chat with you.  :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sweet P: One Year Old!

Well, she is one year and two weeks old as of today. Like last month, better late than never!

What a year! We hardly remember how small 6 lbs., 9 oz. felt in our arms, and it's been a bit surreal to see all of her monthly photos in one collage. Look at that precious little nugget at one month old!

Highlights from Presley's twelfth month of life:

  1. She officially started walking on 2/16. It was exciting to see her on a roll, and just two days later, she was steady and quick! We could tell she had been ready for weeks but wasn't sure of herself. Sometimes we tricked her into walking to us with the help of food and toys.  
  2. We moved to Nashville just after she turned 11 months old. She handled the move to Nashville like a champ. Well, not the actual move. I had to pull over twice on the drive from Memphis, but she settled in at the new house just fine. I spent too much time concerned about how the move, empty walls, differently configured furniture, and new surroundings would jack up her routine. She didn't give any of it a second thought. Babies are resilient like that.  
  3. She has mastered getting down from the couch and the stairs. 
  4. Her seventh tooth came in on 2/9. She had been chewing on her fingers and drooling a bit for about a week before, so we knew the next teeth would be coming in soon. Her eight tooth came in on two days later. 
  5. She is very good at communicating. I think it's a combination of us understanding her cues really well now and her consistency with signing. She shakes her head when she doesn't want something we offer. The tone of her babbles vary and mimic the sounds that we make.  
  6. She "sings" with us -- which means that I sing two notes, and she sings or hums them back. 
  7. She purposely forces laughter to carry on with us. She made a facial expression that had us cackling, and when the moment subsided, she pretend-laughed... which then made all three of us laugh. When I was pregnant, I remember joking to S, “Wouldn’t it be so terrible if she didn’t have a sense of humor? That would be terrible! All the fun in this house would be completely wasted.” Consider my fear eliminated. 
  8. New foods this month were olives, tomato, and sweet potato. It had been awhile since she had quinoa, so we tried that again too. She still likes it! 
  9. She flirted for the first time, and the twinkle in her eye was a sight to behold! She made friends with a certain waiter who then gave her attention every single time he walked by the table. She loved every minute of it. So much personality! (See next photo.) 
  10. She has started putting things away which was a nice surprise. Not only does she remove things from my bathroom drawers, but she puts them away too. Usually in the wrong drawer, but you know, I appreciate the effort.

Happy (belated) birthday, Pres! We love you so much!

All of her past monthly updates:
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dear Presley: The Things You Taught Me in One Year

Dear Presley,

Happy 1st birthday! I've spent the last week watching you walk around the house and remembering the tiny infant that changed our world on this day last year at exactly 9:20 in the morning. As I had been warned ad nauseam throughout your first weeks, your first year nearly gave me whiplash. I had been "textbook ready" for parenthood after all the books and blogs I (prematurely) studied for years, but nothing could have prepared me emotionally for what it would mean to be your mother. There are a few things I would have done differently as I stumbled through being a mom, but I certainly cannot imagine that it's possible to love you more than I do. Lucky for me, you won't remember all the things that happened in your first year. Instead, I want to write down a few things you taught me.

Thank you for teaching me....

... to always acknowledge those who are helping me out, even when I thought I was on my own. (How many mamas can say that their little one literally twisted and pushed her way out during delivery?!)

... that tomorrow is a always new day.

... that it is more important to achieve milestones on our own time rather than someone else's.

... that love can be so overwhelming that it renders one speechless.

... that doing something you've always wanted to do can be hard, sometimes, and that is OK.

... that love is all that matters, not whether I am a full-time working mom or a stay-at-home mom.

... that parenting is equally magical, maddening, and funny.

... that, like you, I don't have this whole thing figured out, but we'll figure it out together -- and that is really special.

... that there will be days that you only want Daddy and that I'm really lucky to have this family.

... that you make me want to be better in a lot of ways. A better wife, mom, family member, friend, student, teacher, worker, jokester. Basically, anything that I could possibly do in this life, I want to be better.

Being your mom and your dad's wife are two of the most important things I'll ever do. I love our family. You have completed us. Happy birthday, my darling girl!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sweet P: 11 Months

WHOA. I've never been this late posting Presley's monthly update! I wish I could blame the move to Nashville or starting a new job, but... this post was written the day after she turned 11 months old. All I had to do was upload the photos, and here we are 2.5 weeks later.

One thing, Lindsay! You were in charge of one thing!

Alas, I give you the latest on the little nugget.

Here are the answers to the latest questions about Pres:

Is she walking yet?
She took her first "kind of" steps in December. You know the kind -- the steps that aren't actually steps, but we're first-time parents who magnify every milestone, because she's obviously a kid genius. ;) She got her balance and took a few real steps on New Year's Day. An amazing thing happened after that. We launched into "lazy parenting," because she could direct her walker on her own and walk loops around the house. We got a little piece of our freedom back! She walks around holding my index fingers. We catch her taking independent steps when she's walking along furniture, but she is still building her confidence. Eight consecutive steps is the score to beat!

Is she still nursing?
She is still nursing, and I'm really proud of that! Her daily routine is: 18-20 pumped oz., 3 solid food meals, formula to supplement, and nurse at night before bed. We had to start supplementing with formula before Thanksgiving. It caused me a lot of heartache and frustration for a few days. I took to my Facebook mom groups and scoured the internet for the best reasonable, organic options. We may supplement now, but I'm going to keep nursing and pumping for as long as possible.

Does she say any words yet?
Everything is "mamama" (actually, "meh-meh-meh") sounds and babbles so far. The newest addition is loudly ahhhhh-ing to compete with loud sounds, like a hand mixer. Making morning protein shakes is infinitely more entertaining now!

Do you still use baby sign language? Does she do it too?
We still the same basic signs that we did three months ago, and she now signs "I love you!" It is a difficult sign to do, so her version is waving her right hand up and down. I love that this was her first sign! Admittedly, we're not as consistent as I had hoped we would be, but we're working on it!

Does she sleep through the night still?
I can count on one hand how many times she has woken up in the middle of night since October 6, and that is a beautiful thing!

What else is new with her?
  • She has perfected her downward-facing dog pose and giggles at the sight of the world upside-down.
  • Her fifth tooth broke through on Christmas Eve, and her sixth tooth followed five days later. 
  • She loves crawling into empty cabinets and sitting under blanket tents with me. 
  • We are teaching her how to hug her stuffed animals.
  • She enjoys touching Dada's beard.
  • She pushes the nipple of her bottles inside out, and then sucks it outright to continue drinking.
  • We had a really sweet mommy/daughter moment last weekend. I grabbed a banana to snack on while we played together. She watched I as peeled the banana and took a bite. She looked at me with an open mouth. I hesitated, because all of our past attempts to feed her banana were met with disgust, but she ate it and wanted more. We sat on the floor amongst her toys and took turns taking bites of banana. 
  • She doesn't seem to be affected by the disassembled house and forest of moving boxes. I sure hope she is as calm about the three-hour drive to the new house!

Happy 11 months, Pres! You complete us in so many ways!

To see past monthly updates, click HERE.

Friday, January 8, 2016

We're On The Move! (and a video)

Since we left San Diego and I started keeping this blog in 2011, we've collected temporary homes like trading cards:

Houston, TX
Tomball, TX
Seymour, TN
Knoxville, TN
Cordova, TN

It is exhausting to think about all the house hunting, packing, moving, and unpacking to which we've become accustomed. If only house hunting was actually as brief (30-minute episodes!) and simple (only 3 options to consider!) as House Hunters.

Between the annual moving extravaganzas and my husband's bald head, you'd think we were a military family, but we're not. The fact of the matter is that we're not afraid of moving to chase opportunity, step out of our comfort zones, and give new cities a shot. Many people probably chase opportunity and move once. Yeah, that would be too easy. ;)

Well, we're on the move... in three ways!

I got a promotion! It has been a recipe of mentorship, opportunity, timing, and proving myself. I worked really hard for this, but I acknowledge that the stars aligned in my favor. I'm reminded of that Seneca quotation: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."

We're moving to Nashville in a few weeks. I love that city, and I'm even more excited to be in the same city as one of my best friends again!

Pres is almost bipedal! She found her balance on New Year's Day, and within 24 hours, she was walking side-by-side holding my hand. She's on the move which makes this little video seem so outdated now, but what a fun moment for us!

Wish us luck as we finish packing up for the big move!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 in Review

Happy New Year!

The content of this blog has changed drastically over the last year. This space has always been a place to share life. No theme, no branding, no plans to become a full-time blogger (though there is nothing wrong with pursuing those things). Of course, the biggest change in my life in the last year is that it now includes a little human that I'm responsible for raising and loving. I don't consider myself a "mom blogger," but I confess that this space has become extremely baby-centric. Although things have shifted, you're still here reading, commenting, and e-mailing -- and I am so grateful for that. Blogging may be dead, as some say, but it is still a community that has given me so much since 2011. Whether you read every post or just check in every once in awhile, thank you!

As I do every year, here is a little look back at the last twelve months.

JANUARY: January seems like a distant blur. I really enjoyed (most of) pregnancy and was so excited to become a mom. When I think of January, I think of setting up her nursery, nights sitting on the couch watching my belly move, weekly movie date nights, and working long hours in preparation for maternity leave. But it wasn't all about baby. I also fulfilled a long-time goal of donating my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and was spotted by a blog reader while out running errands. Crazy and cool!

FEBRUARY: The last weeks of pregnancy included high blood pressure which forced me to leave the office a little earlier than planned. We geared up for parenthood with visits from some best friends and then the arrival of my parents for Operation: Baby Watch. Presley Noel entered the world on her due date and completely blew open our hearts in a way we didn't know was possible. 

MARCH: March was... ugh, guys. Can I tell you something? March was really hard. I hinted at it, but I didn't reveal the full scope of it at the time. It was not how I wanted to memorialize the precious early days of my daughter's life, and to be honest, it was only in hindsight that understood and acknowledged that I had some "baby blues." Despite it's challenges, I fell deeper in love with my family and learned a lot about myself.

APRIL: I went back to work at the start of April. Life looked so different than it had six weeks earlier, but it was such a smooth, stress-free transition back. I jumped right back in, got used to my new routine of pumping, and swooned over every photo and video of Presley that flashed across my phone. S is a stellar dad, and he is amazing at raising our kiddo. My MIL paid us a visit and met Presley for the first time.

MAY: May brought a sunnier perspective and more sleep. Hallelujah! I was finally able to breathe and laugh about some of my parenting fails. I had my first Mother's Day. We were obsessed with Presley's developing personality. It was around this time that she became more active and aware, and we started recording more videos. One of my best friends, Annie, met Presley via FaceTime and also shared the news that she was pregnant! So much excitement!

JUNE: Another best friend, SueEllen, shared that she was pregnant which officially made 2015 the Year of the Babies! I did a little photo project with my mom and grandma which I love so much. S had his first Father's Day, complete with a card scribbled by Pres.

JULY: Work had a lot of my focus as I started a new project. By this point, life felt normal, and we had a good home/Presley routine. Summertime in the South is a special kind of oppressive, but we survived. I'm glad this blog was a place to quickly record all my mama feels or that time I was kicked in the face... twice. I also dressed Pres in an old dress of mine that was sewn by my grandma.

AUGUST: S and I celebrated nine years together (dating and marriage). Well, we celebrated as much as two, tired new parents can on any given day. ;) I traveled to Maui for a best friend's wedding with my mom as my date. The original plan was for S and I to do the honeymoon we never had, but we had a last-minute change of plans. (One day we'll get a honeymoon!) The wedding was beautiful, and I loved the special time I spent with my mom.

SEPTEMBER: I guess I would sum up September in four words: poop, sass, party hat. I turned another year wiser! (Ha.) September brought three gifts: poop in my hair, the slow blink, and a baby in a party hat -- which is one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

OCTOBER: October will go down in history as the month that Presley began sleeping through the night in her crib. That's all that matters about October. (Oh, and the hilarious GIF of Pres that I created.)

NOVEMBER: It felt like we blinked, and suddenly, Presley was nine months old. My MIL came out for a visit. I couldn't believe how quickly Thanksgiving rolled around. We had fun gearing up for Presley's first holiday season. We took a family photo early enough to send out our Christmas cards by early December.

DECEMBER: December brought babies! Feeling fresh off the infant parenting wagon, it was fun to see two of my best friends become moms. Some big changes took place at work, and the week of vacation that I had planned for the holidays was moved to January. We spent a quiet Christmas at home and FaceTime'd family so they could see Pres open her gifts. Sadly, my heart is heavy with grief from the unexpected passing of my best friend's dad on Christmas Day. Just two weeks after the birth of his grandson, his time on earth ended. It's hard not being in San Diego right now to offer comfort and to be useful -- to hug and hold my Bestie, to deliver dinner, to clean her house, to do... something, anything. But even with such sorrow, the lyric that played in my head over and over on Christmas night was: "For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn." Life is precious, and although circumstances can feel confusing and heartbreaking, there is always light with time.

We are looking forward to 2016 and all the change and growth it already has in store.
Cheers, my friends!