November 10, 2010

The last of the twenties...

Happy Birthday, me!
So, not my best Birthday Photo ever, but an apt snapshot of what life is like these days. Most things get done around here, but not exactly with the same high standards. Luke's ever increasing mobility, plus my going back to work and getting involved in church stuff again, means that my attitude leans much more towards, "Ehh...that's good enough." It works for vacuuming, dirty dishes, laundry, and apparently birthday photo blogging traditions.
I did a much better job getting Luke's birthday documented, so that will just have to do for this year.
Here's to my 29th year: The year of just getting things done.

Work it, Baby!!

Luke's 1st photoshoot

October 7, 2010

Weekend Warriors

A couple of weeks ago, I was fighting the weekend blues. The weather had been unforgivingly hot for months on end this summer, trapping us inside with the air conditioning, and the Netflix Instant Queue had been exhausted...and I was cranky. To say the least.
As a wife of a pastor who doesn't write his sermons until Saturday morning, sometimes our weekends are taken over by work. However, we are usually pretty good about setting aside Fridays as a day off. And on the weekends he doesn't preach, we have a good two days off together. But without any plans, we often would waste the entire weekend in front of the tv; taking turns watching the baby so the other could run errands or get some alone time in. This is fine as an occasional thing, but week after week was really driving me insane. Prior to having Luke, we were much more independent of each other during the or putzing around Lowe's. At night, we would go to dinner and a movie, or some other date-like activity. But like everything else about our "typical" lives, things changed once Luke arrived. With most things, we have rolled with the punches and figured out ways to adjust and cope. However, how to spend weekends with a baby, and now a toddler, have eluded us.
Finally outdone with myself and our typical weekend schedule, I conferred with Travis (read: spent weeks getting frustrated and then finally let it all loose on the poor guy one afternoon), and we decided to start planning weekend excursions.
We weren't quite sure what was going work well. Figuring out life with a toddler is kind of a trick, you know? He can walk...but not for very far. He handles the car seat pretty good now, but isn't interested in being in there for very long. He likes exploring, but that also entails putting everything in his mouth still. With criteria like this, it kind of narrows down what we can do together as a family and all enjoy it.
Our first attempt was to visit Crowder Mountain State Park. We brought the Baby Bjorn and thought we'd hike around a little. Travis was in charge of the trail, so I just (blindly) followed his lead. We ended up hiking to the top of Crowder Mountain. While Crowder Mountain really is just an overly ambitious hill, the trail we took was literally like climbing a StairMaster for one mile straight up. I'm glad Travis is SuperDad and was willing to carry Luke the whole time. I had trouble just getting myself to the top (as evidenced by my very red face). No way could I have hauled our chunky little guy. 
Also notice long sleeve button down, and puffy hair that's jammed up with a pen because I didn't have a rubber band. I was SO NOT PREPARED for this trail. Thanks, honey!
Our second outing went much smoother. It was a sermon Saturday, and we'd spent Friday doing lawn work, so we needed a shorter excursion. We'd heard about Carrigan Farms from a neighbor, so we decided to check it out. It ended up being a delightful little trip. The weather was finally cooperating with us and dropped down into the 70's, and it was a beautiful day. Our admission price included a hay ride to the patch, getting to pick our own pumpkins, and a petting zoo.

All in all, the weekends are getting better around here and we are finally figuring out how to do this whole parenting of a toddler thing.
In other news, Luke has a temper. So fun.
Actually, not fun at all. Before you know it, he'll be slamming doors in my face.
Aren't kids great?!

September 11, 2010

High School Reunion, Skipped

High school has been on my mind recently. To begin with, I recently discovered Sarah Dessen, and I've been plowing my way through her books the past two weeks. She is a YA author and writes mainly about teenage girls and all the chaos that surrounds that time of life. I LOVE them. (It doesn't hurt that she shares my great love of Friday Night Lights AND Gilmore Girls. She also lives in North Carolina. The more I learn about her, the more I'm beginning to wonder if she is the girl version of my soul mate.) I just finished The Truth About Forever and I've been wishing I had a sweet high school relationship to look back on all day. My experiences with high school romance revolved mainly around unrequited crushes that lasted for years at a time, before finally crashing and burning, usually in some typically over-dramatized teenage fashion (That's right, John Hreha. I'm talking about you. French Lick, Indiana. High school ski trip. Broke my heart. Not sure I've forgiven you for that one, yet). My first legit date didn't happen until just weeks before graduation, which is just lousy timing all around. Not the stuff of swoony YA fiction. Oh well, life certainly got better from that point on.

The other, much more predictable, reason behind the reminiscing is that my 10 year high school reunion is happening back in Tennessee as I type this. For many various reasons, I chose not to make the effort to go back to Tullahoma for the reunion. Most of the people I'd like to see and catch up with were not able to attend, and if I am honest, the only reason I'd be there tonight would be to people watch. To compare and judge, feel inadequate and bring up all those lovely high school feelings all over again. Although, I do admit, it would be nice to see the beer bellies in person. Facebook, I'm sure, doesn't do them justice....One of the few instances of pure justice in this world, when those guys end up with a gut the size of Mississippi (and we all know who those guys were).

When I was graduating from high school, I just knew that nothing would keep me from coming back in 10 years to see everyone. And yet, here I sit, on my comfy couch with my pjs on, miles and miles away from the reunion, and totally content with that outcome. The farther away I get from high school, the less important it all seems. I wasn't a social outcast. I wasn't popular. I was a nerd and an overachiever, and I spent most every weekend staying in. I didn't have a boyfriend, didn't drink alcohol until college, never broke curfew, spent a ridiculous anount of time at church, and generally did what I was supposed to do. I have never felt like I had a typical high school experience, but I'm not sure I would change it, if given the chance.

I haven't kept in touch with many people from my graduating class. If it weren't for social media, I would only know the whereabouts of maybe 4 of them. High school just wasn't where I ever found a niche. Going away to college ended up being the smartest decision I ever made. Now that reunion I may make an effort to go to!
So, how about you? Did you go to your 10 year class reunion? Was it worth it?

September 3, 2010

Year 1, Survived!

Dear Luke,

Today is your first birthday. Yay! While I'm sure your birthdays in years to come will most likely involve more craziness, the current Disney It-character, and much more sugar, we celebrated today with the timeless tradition of letting you eat cake with lots of icing while almost completely naked. After being a little hesitant about what exactly you were supposed to do with the giant chocolate cupcake we placed in front of you, with a little help, you finally got the idea and embraced the cupcake with both hands. Literally.

I've spent most of the day reminiscing about what we were doing at that specific time a year ago. At 9 PM last night, I was watching a stupid reality show about crashing cars when I laughed and thought I'd peed on myself, when in fact, my water had broken. At 2 AM this morning, we gave up on starting labor by walking the halls of the Maternity Ward, I took half an Ambien and got the last good sleep I'd get for about 10 months. At 9, your father and I were watching Season 1 of The Office on DVD, courtesy of your Uncle Sam, while I was hooked to an IV that pumped me full of Pitocin. At 3 PM, I was READY for an epidural. At 4:00 I was REALLY READY for that epidural to start working. And finally, at 5:21, you arrived. Cone head and all.

This past year has been so many things. And while exhausting is probably the most apt description, it's also been the most rewarding, exciting, and challenging year of my life to date. I know those are the typical 1st year feelings. I was expecting them and they came just like clockwork. What I wasn't expecting was the real sense of accomplishment I'd feel today. You are one year old today. You have been (mostly) healthy, (mostly) happy, and (definitely) ALIVE for one whole year. You eat well, you learned to walk early, and thank the good Lord above, you FINALLY sleep through the night. And to top it all off, your father and I love you more today than we even knew was possible. I feel like I should be pumping my fist in the air while saying this. 'Cause it truly is an accomplishment, and a blessing, that I get to say it at all.

I can't say that I ever doubted that we'd live to see this day. You weren't a terribly difficult baby, based upon what I've learned from other moms. And yet, making it this far seemed so impossible all those many months ago when you wouldn't gain weight, when you wouldn't sleep more than 2 hrs at a time, when I was so sleep deprived that I turned into a different person. Being your mom was, and is, truly the hardest job I've ever had. There are no sick days, no paid vacation, no mandatory break times...just sore boobs, diapers, and lots of bodily fluids.  

But the good still outweigh the bad...and not by just a little. Your personality, that has been showing itself slowly more and more in the last few months, is so stinkin' cute. You are such a happy guy. You love "sneaking" up behind me and shrieking with laughter when you hit me on the back and I react with total shock and surprise. Ever since the day you figured out how to go from sitting to crawling, you have rarely held still for more than a second at a time. Now that you are walking, this had created quite a challenge for are never where I leave you. I feel like I spend all day just following you around.

So, here we are. One year of your life is over. While I don't feel especially weepy over the fact that you aren't a baby anymore and are instead in a dead sprint to toddlerhood, I am overcome with emotion just the same. I am so thankful that I get to be your Momma. That you are so healthy and so happy and so alive. I love you, little man.

And so, for all that, I am celebrating today. Here's to you and me, kid. We made it! Let's eat cake!

August 26, 2010

Beach Tripping

When I married Travis, I gained a new family...parents-in-law, more siblings, a nephew, grandparents, and more Mormon aunts and uncles than I can keep straight. You know, the whole deal.
However, along with all those Utahans, I also gained a Phillip and a Jason. And I married into the "Boyz Vacation Week."
Phillip and Jason are Travis' two best friends, whom he met while at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. While I was still in college, these three best friends (aka "the Boyz") were learning how to be pastors down in South Carolina. Along with Jason's wife, Carla, they took their first vacation together after seminary on a trip to the Bahamas. From that point going forward, these three guys have taken a trip together every year. As the years have gone by, the original four started to multiple. Along came kids and wives and more kids. And still more kids. Til this year, we numbered 12.
That's right. TWELVE. 6 adults. 6 children. Having joined the group when we numbered 8.5, it's been kind of amazing to see it grow the way it has. And I'm not sure we've put a cap on things just yet...

Stealing crayons. Busted!
So, with twelve people, 6 of whom were 5 years old and younger (two of which weren't even a year old yet), finding a place for "The Boyz Vacation Week" is a tough assignment. Add the fact that we are all pastor families on pastor family budgets, and it makes it almost impossible. The beach is a favorite since it offers free entertainment for the kiddos. Since it was our year to find a location, I stuck with the North Carolina coast and ended up with a wonderful house in Kure Beach. (By the way, I would highly recommend Victory Beach Rentals. The house was reasonably priced, beautifully taken care of, and their customer service was great...even when our house got struck by lighting and half the outlets went out!)
Eating sand. So gross.
The Saturday our vacation started, we were in Kentucky celebrating the wedding of my dear college roommate, Alison. So, while we did a crazy amount of traveling in just three short days...we did the full on planes, trains, and automobiles!...the rest of the crew arrived and set up house for us. We finally arrived at the beach late Sunday afternoon. While it took us a few days to finally settle into the rhythm of beach life, we finally did and we had a wonderful time. Hanging out. Reconnecting. Laughing Hard. Eating Sand. Digging Pools.

...And watching as our son got to meet his future playmates. It is such a gift to have these families in our lives, and I am so glad Luke will have this group in his life for the long haul, if nothing else than to have a whole group of kids his age to will understand, completely and fully, just how awful it is to have your dad preach a sermon about how you didn't clean your room last week.
Welcome to being a pastor's kid!
My first Boyz vacation, St. Augustine, FL. Also, our engagement photo!
My 4th trip, Luke's 1st (if you don't count in utero!)

August 6, 2010

This Baby Was Made For Walking

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest sister and her family came by for a whirlwind visit. It was the first time she had met Luke, and to honor the occasion, Luke managed to take 5 consecutive steps. Up until that point, he had tried  a step or two...often repeating the same foot, so that he would end up with his legs wide apart, or going in circles. But on that Friday afternoon, he stood up, grinned like crazy, and took off. Since then, he's been testing this whole walking thing out. The past few days, he has stopped crawling when he gets 3 or 4 feet from his desired destination and finishes the rest of the journey walking.

It has been an amazing thing to watch him learn how to walk. It's happened so much faster than I have been prepared for. It feels like the transitions from sitting up unsupported, to crawling, to walking have gone lightening fast. And while I can't say I exactly miss the days of sitting on the floor all day entertaining an infant, I can honestly say I would love the chance to just sit for a while. Instead, I spend most of his waking hours crawling around after him...plucking all the things out of his mouth that he has somehow managed to get his hands on and grabbing him from plunging his hands into Henry's water bowl.
Someone needs to invent a dog-friendly, baby-thwarting water bowl. Smart people, get on that. Pronto.

On Tuesday, Luke turned 11 months old. I cannot believe that to even be possible. But it is. Everyone always says that it goes by so fast. During those 1AM nursing sessions, back when he was just a squalling lump in a blanket, I was very skeptical of that. But's like I blinked and he's starting to look more and more like a little boy instead of a little baby. I remember putting him to bed in his crib for the first time, and now, when I go in to retrieve him from a nap, he literally tries to jump into my arms and there are toothmarks lining the rails of his crib.

He truly is the happiest baby I've ever encountered (minus the teething days, of course). We've had lots of visitors at our house over the past few weeks: aunts, uncles, grandmothers. It's been so much fun to watch them interact with our sociable little guy. I'm not quite sure where he gets it from, but he is never happier than with a room full of people to crawl and climb all over. 

We will take our first real beach vacation starting next weekend, and while I know it will be exhausting, I can't wait to watch him interact with the ocean and with the children of our friends...learning new things and still growing up way too fast.

July 19, 2010

Our Latest Baby Trick

I taught Luke how to clap this week. This was right before bedtime and he was a little slap-happy, as evidenced by the crazy laughter. I read on Becoming Sarah last week about how her daughter had started clapping and I thought to myself that I should give it a try. It took us a few days, but he caught on pretty quick. Now I'm trying to figure out what to teach him next...the possibilities are endless! Any suggestions? Potty training is probably not going to happen yet, right? But what about changing his own diaper? It could happen.....right? :)

June 20, 2010

Four Photos

Trying new things

Henry making a run for it

"I'm coming to get you!!"

Silly baby.
Posted by Picasa

June 17, 2010

9.5 months

Dear Luke,

In the past two weeks, life around our house has changed drastically. The Monday before you turned 9 months old, you suddenly went from sitting by the couch looking longingly after the dog to actually moving towards the dog on your hands, and a knee and foot combo... a fact that delighted your father and surprised the heck out of Henry.

Within a week, your crawl went from a quirky move that got the job done to efficient and lightening fast. I set you down in the living room the other day, while I ran to my room to grab my flip flops so we could go to the mail box. By the time I returned, a mere 10 seconds later, you had made your way into the kitchen and were inches away from your new found favorite destination: Henry's water bowl. So far, you've managed to thwart your father and I's best defenses and actually got your hands on (and in) it a few times. You delight in the huge mess it creates when you try to pull up on it and it dumps water on your lap.

Henry has not been as equally enthralled with all your new tricks, needless to say. But he is a loving, patient furry big brother, who will let you climb over his legs and get in a few hair grabs before he will to lick you from head to toe and then retreat to higher ground. Heaven help the poor dog when you learn how to pull yourself up into his big chair.

And while your crawling has really taken off in the last few weeks, you do not seem content to master just one skill at a time. You are pulling up on anything over 3 inches tall: the couch, my legs, the hearth, the tv stand, the bookcase, your toys. If Henry would let you, you'd pull up on him, too. Within the past week, you've figured out how to do it with walls and the cabinet doors in the kitchen. Not only are you pulling yourself up: you stand up and let go, wildly waving your hands around as your little hips look like they are hula-hooping minus the hoop, as you try to find your balance. This video was taken over a week ago, when you first started. You can do this for 20-25 seconds at a time now.

Baby boy, you are a sweet, outgoing little guy. Your absolute favorite place in the world is church. You smile and squeal, flirt with the little old ladies in the pew behind, and blow raspberries throughout the whole service. You squealed and pumped your little legs all the way up the aisle last week as we made our way up for communion. I couldn't see your face, but based on the reaction of the people looking at us, you were either very excited to go see your dad or you just wanted to let everyone know how great you think life is. Being the product of two introverted parents, we weren't quite expecting you to be such a social butterfly right from the go...but it seems that you are. The world seems equally enthralled with you, too. You are quick to smile and love to laugh.

Luke, my sweet boy, you are growing so fast these days and your personality is such an amazing gift to discover each day. Being with you each day has gotten easier and more rewarding in ways I was not expecting. The first 6 months of being your mother was a hard, hard job. I loved you very much and that helped make the days a little easier, but mostly it was just a lot of work without immediate rewards. I didn't always feel like I was adjusting well to this new phase of my life, this new job of motherhood. There were days when I really questioned if I could be a stay at home mom...not because I missed my career, but because I felt like I was becoming a bad version of myself. Lack of sleep, feelings of isolation, and just the sheer magnitude of the effort involved in keeping you alive, healthy, and took a lot out of me. But those days seem so far away now. The farther away we get from the 6 month mark, the better I feel. I still get frustrated with being at home alone, and you have certainly pushed me to my breaking point with naps in the past week...but it happens less and less frequently these days. And for that, I am so thankful.

I love you baby boy, and I will tell it to you in person when I see your smiling face that is patiently waiting for me to come rescue you from your crib right now.


May 31, 2010

Poor, poor Henry

Remember this?

Well, I think it's cause Henry knew that one day, this was going to happen:

May 23, 2010

Fixin' Things

Hi all!
Just realized I had a few posts from earlier this year that I never pushed the publish button on, so if you are getting notices about posts from March, that's why! Sorry! I have all sorts of half-finished posts from the last few months that I've just never gone back to finish. If you need someone to blame, look no further than this guy...he is a demanding boss.

My goal for this week is to capture on film Luke's newest baby trick. He has mastered the Plank position recently in his quest to figure out how to stand/crawl. He does this perfect little baby push-up. I mean, he's really good. Doesn't stick his bum way up in the air like I am prone to do :) Plus, it's pretty adorable.

May 19, 2010

PW Book Signing

I always look forward to when the new Bloggies come out each year. They always introduce me to new blogs that I'd been missing out on (and bizarrely enough, let me vote for the girl who used to live down the street from me. Way to go, Kristin!). Last year, they introduced me to The Pioneer Woman. I quickly added her full RSS feed to my Google Reader and I've been hooked ever since.

A few months ago, my sister, Beverly, and I realized that we had a mutual love for all things P-Dub. When her new cookbook came out, my sister purchased a copy for herself and one for me. Since then, she's also indoctrinated our mom, who passed the love along to our other sister and family friends. We are officially a Pioneer Woman family.

When the Charlotte book signing was announced, I could literally hear Beverly's moans of jealousy all the way from Mississippi. My sister is one of those people who really gets into following celebrities that she likes. REALLY gets into it. (Just ask her anything about John Mayer. I dare you. She knows it all.) So, anyway, she was dying that I could go and she couldn't.

I really like Ree and enjoy her work, but I'm one of those people who would normally shy away from a social situation like this. I would never confront a celebrity under any situation, no matter how high my level of respect or excitement. I don't like bothering people....especially people who get bothered all the time. (This, unfortunately, extends to all areas of my life, not just the celebrity-sphere. I have a hard time talking to waiters, receptionists, clerks, etc. I once sat in a car dealership waiting room for 2 hours because I didn't want to go bother the serviceman at the desk...even though they had just forgotten about me and my car had been done after 20 minutes. Sigh. But I'd rather sit there for hours than "bother" someone. Aren't my neuroses just adorable?!)

However, my love for my sister is deep and wide, so I decided it was worth the possible mortification I would endure if I made an idiot out of myself and I made plans to go down to south Charlotte for the book signing. Ree is known for posting pictures of babies that come to her book signings, and my sister was certain that Luke would make the cut, especially if she made him some PW-inspired gear.

So Luke took a bath, donned his specially made onesie and bib, and got ready for his possible internet debut. He's a pretty cute kid, huh? I think so. 

That's Ree, way in the out-of-focus background.

Unfortunately, possibly because of my avoidance of these kind of situations in the past, I didn't know that we needed to get there HOURS ahead of time (possibly DAYS?? I never did fully understand how it all worked, no thanks to the Joseph-Beth's website *ahem*) in order to get a ticket. We ended up in Group S (as in out of the alphabet), and because Ree was so gracious and spent time with every person who came by, the groups took about 15-20 minutes to go through. So, even though the signing started at the totally baby-friendly hour of 6 PM, Travis and I did the math after watching a few groups go through and realized it would be well after 10 before we got called. Luke is a really good baby, but there was no way in the world he was going to be cute and personable, least of all awake, at 10PM. So, we snapped some pictures, took a video, and decided that was just as close as he was going to get to meeting The Pioneer Woman. Fortunately for us, he didn't seem to mind. He just wanted a bottle and was asleep before we made it back home. Don't take it personally, Ree!

However, like I mentioned...deep and wide. So I dropped of the baby and the hubs and headed back into Charlotte to wait for Group S to be called. I swiped the onesie and bib off Luke so that Bev's hard work could still be shown, even though I just new I'd get too nervous to really explain why I was carrying around a onesie with a picture of her husband's Wrangler-encased bottom on the back of it.

Finally, at 10:30, we were called and I clutched our cookbooks and my baby garb and got in line. I'll admit that I was really nervous about the whole ordeal. I'm not sure why. I shouldn't have been. Because even though she'd been at it for over 4 hours, she was lovely and gracious and laughed appropriately at the clothes. I really don't know how she did it. I would have been exhausted and cranky after that many hours of strangers talking to me, wanting things from me. But she didn't even show any cracks. Bless her heart.

Showing her the bib that says "Are you gonna eat your tots?" 

Smiling despite the fact that my baby had a picture of Marlboro Man's behind on his back earlier that day. That Ree...she's a good sport!

Mission accomplished. That better earn me a year's worth of brownie points, Beverly!

March 6, 2010

March pictures

Luke has consistenly been on the lowest curve of the growth chart. Even though he is 6 months old now, he can still wear 0-3 months pants. His tiny butt, even with a diaper on, can barely keep these sweatpants up. Luckily, they fit his head perfectly!

The massive amounts of drool have not slowed, nor have they produced any teeth. Only lots and lots of wet clothes and bibs.

He was too busy looking at the camera to smile...or you know, even look in the right direction. Oh well. I'm sure many more years of picture-taking uncooperativeness are ahead of us.