Monday, April 29, 2013


From Real Simple:

"I took this photograph using a tripod when my son was three months old. I was so overwhelmed. My life had changed drastically and I wondered when it would slow down. In this image, the ocean is motherhood-vast, engulfing, beyond my control. Looking out at it, I am struck by both the challenge and the beauty of parenting. Holding my son, taking in this view, I know that everything will be OK." -Photographer Claudia Lucia

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Best

You, lovely blog friends, are the best.

When I posted my Mom Insecurity post the other day, I was simply trying to share what I was feeling that day, to be real, as I promised I would try to be here on this blog in my New Years resolution post (#5!).  And while I wasn't fishing for reassurance or compliments, you all decided to leave just that in your comments - your own stories, your mama wisdom, and your encouragement.  It means so much to me to have women who I don't really "know" take the time to leave thoughtful words of support, not just on this post, but on lots and lots of others.  Your kind words always mean so much to me.

And looking back on the post, I feel somewhat silly.  We truly do get out often - there is rarely a day that we don't go somewhere, even if that somewhere is just a neighborhood walk.  And I love that we get to do things together as a family - the mundane grocery shopping or trips to the swings.  We are usually on the go on the weekends, while we appreciate down time spent at home together too (like the late afternoons we've spent on our spruced up patio).  Yet I do treat Tony as my safety net - my confidence is sky-high with him there, but alone? Not so much.  I definitely want to boost my "mom" confidence altogether, in many areas, and going out with just Harper will be a small way to help that.  So, we go out, we stay home, alone or together, it's gonna be ok.  

Thank you for helping me see that.  :)

Backyard Blooming

Our backyard was so blah three weeks ago.  If you're been reading for a while, you have heard me wax on and on about our outdoor spaces.  Our backyard went from decent, to good, to bad, to bad bad.  Seriously, my complaining about our backyard goes back to 2008.

As it stands now, we have serious deck dreams (as we did back in this 2010 post, gah).  My dad has actually designed the deck in some fancy software program and although he's super busy, he's going to come help us build it, probably this year sometime (our tax return at work!).  We've seeded grass back there three times, and sodded, and it just doesn't grow.  See that old deck post as to why (water, shade, dog paws, etc.).  So once the deck is in, we're going to landscape/hardscape around it and forgo grass (we've got a whole front yard for kids to play in one day).  The rest of our yard, probably 2/3's is woods - lots of trees and pine needles.  We like this, as it adds privacy and requires no maintenance (hahahahah).  Yet it can easily look overgrown.

The thing is, I sit at our kitchen table three predictable times a day shoving green beans and squash in my baby's face.  I spend a lot of time staring out into the backyard from that table, waiting while my child decides to stare at the ceiling for upwards of three minutes between bites.  It was so dreary out there all winter.  All brown and gray and stick-filled.

I vowed to clean it up (one day), yet my fear of spiders and snake holes and other creepiness stopped me.  Until one day.  One day I suited up.  I wish I had taken a picture.  I wore gray leggings and shorts (so I could see the bugs if they ascended my legs) and then my winter suede boots and knee-high socks (snake bite protection).  Then I just wore a t-shirt and monitored my arms frequently for hitchhikers.

And I made a stick pile.

It sat there for weeks.  (it now sits on the side of our house! ha! maybe it will be in the dump next year?)

But the yard looked so so so much better!  Less cluttered.  The pictures don't do it justice.

don't mind the tote that covers a hole roxy likes to dig...

It was still dreary, but it's was picked up.

The weather was just starting to warm up (this was about Easter), but we weren't exactly motivated to spend too much time outside...

But as each day passed, I sat at that table and watched buds appear.  Then I watched leaves appear, literally overnight.  It was beautiful.  I mean it.  It was beautiful.  My endless minutes spent at that table watching my child smear avocado into her eyeballs turned into an opportunity to see nature unfold before my eyes.  I got to see spring literally bloom.  And I thought about the winter months where the only colors out there were of the gloom palate, and I really appreciated that green.  I loved each bud and bloom.  I smile each day as I look out on the sunshiney green and rich brown.  

The liriope is spreading like crazy!  And Tony pressure washed the shed! (I want to paint it some day!)
We still don't have grass, but it's ok.  Tony spent a lot of time cleaning off the patio, blowing away the pollen dunes and the cobwebs and sprucing it all up.  We planted a few flowers (such cheap and easy joy!).  The table got pressure washed and we suddenly had a little space where we could spend a lazy afternoon in the sunshine.  We've enjoyed many early evenings out there, Harper hanging out in her exersaucer while we sit in the spider-free chairs.  It's glorious.

The dogs go nuts and we pretend like the mosquitoes aren't already appearing.  

We've debated which way the Hello! should face - in or out? Weigh in.

So while we don't have our perfect backyard (yet!), it's a great space to enjoy this spring.  It even looks good in pictures!  (Hint:  it's because you can't see our feet!)

Hopefully we will have backyard progress to report soon!  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mom Insecurities, Part one million...

Confession:  I rarely go out of the house with just me and Harper.  

I see pictures that awesome moms post when they are out doing their grocery shopping (with coupons! and a budget!) with three kids in tow.  I see moms who have 4 kids to get in and out of carseats each time they go anywhere.  I have friends who are extremely competent and capable moms, and I know they truly "run" their household, doing what they need to do, hauling kids with them without a thought.  That all seems terrifying to me.  Ever since Harper was born, I haven't done much alone (with her), besides the (almost) weekly walks with friends.  Luckily, Tony's usually up for us all going to run errands or just take a casual stroll through Target once he gets home from work.  And sometimes if I need to do a quick errand, I will go out once she's in bed for the night. 

At first it was the fear of a full-out newborn meltdown.  Then that phase passed, and it was work alone just to be at home and make sure she ate/slept when she needed to and some laundry got done.  Then that passed and she was fine to sleep if it was nap time and we were out.  Then she started finding her voice and I was once again afraid of a loud baby annoying others.  Then she got to the point where she does not nap if we are out - there's just way too much to look at.  And what do you do? - push a stroller and hold a basket, or put the carrier in the basket (what if it doesn't fit with the other stuff you are putting it it?), and now she fits in the basket seats but she slumps because she's pretty little still.... You get the idea.  

I'm the type of person who plans out errands based on location and avoiding left turns across traffic.  I plan where to park and how to carry the things I need to carry.  I overthink and micromanage. I'm a crazy person, basically.  So usually, the thought of just going somewhere seems more trouble than it's worth.  I'll just wait until Tony gets home and the details will work out better (I push the stroller, he pushes the basket, boom).  I'm not a hermit by any means, or anxiety-riddled, I just am lazycrazy, I guess. 

Honestly I think it's more so my mom insecurity - I don't want to seem like I don't know what I'm doing when there are others there to see.  It's so silly, but if I'm struggling to get her in a cart and she's slumping over and crying and I didn't remember to bring a toy...I just imagine a veteran mom laughing at me in her head.  Crazy, right?  Like that would ever happen.  I have one kid for crying out loud!  And no one cares what I'm doing or what I look like doing it.

And Harper is a little clock - she eats and sleeps so very predictably these days.  We got her on a pretty specific schedule from day one, which has been awesome for all of us, but sometimes it feels a bit restrictive.  I want her to take her 2 hour naps in her crib, not fall asleep randomly in the car and be a mess the rest of the day because she's off schedule.  You can predict down to about a 5 minute span when she will start melting down if eating/sleeping doesn't occur as planned.  Since she eats food food now, that's even more awake time that's taken up and not workable out and about (well, it is, but it's so very messy! and she screeches between bites).  We've gotten a million times more flexible about her schedule as she's gotten older (because she's so used to it, one day off doesn't destroy it all anymore), but it's still hard to throw that all to the wind.

Yet she's recently (finally!) dropped down to just 2, two hour naps a day (thanks to some unplanned (on her part) prodding from Janna), with a big awake time from 3 til bedtime at 7:30.  To make that stretch a little better, I've been trying to keep her up longer than two hours around lunch time.  So really I have even more time now to go out.  

All of this rambling simply to say that I need to get over it.  Today I did.

We went to Ross for a few things.  She fit in the basket fine.  And she hollered, but it was ok - there were literally 5 other small babies in there.  No one cared.  I dragged her into the post office, and instead of the usual trolls who reside there, there was a really nice lady who talked to us right away.  Turns out her daughter was born two days before Harper. 

Especially as the days turn nicer and she gets older and easier, I have to stop being afraid or insecure and get the heck out of this house.  I'm sure once Kid 2 comes around, I won't care at all and will be out constantly, so I may as well get used to it now.  Errands, no-reason Target visits (just window shopping, of course), playdates with friends who also have kids at home, playground trips, you name it.  It needs to happen.

Anyone else crazy like this?  Or any good suggestions on how to get over it?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Harper's Dedication

Our sweet baby Harper got dedicated this weekend (basically, similar to baptism, but not).  My family, Grammy, Jon Jennifer and Ava, and Tony's parents were all able to come, so we did a lunch party right before the ceremony at 3.  It was a gorgeous day that actually felt like spring, not August, and I just felt so blessed to have our family there with us to support our little girl.  

Not only was it a nice celebration, but it was a great opportunity for Tony and I to reaffirm and really put thought into how we want to raise our children.  Along with some other "homework," we were supposed to write letters to Harper about our hopes for her life.  Tony went the humor route.  I kept hitting a block as I was trying to write mine, so it's not my finest work, but in the interest of always over-sharing everything all of the time, here it is:

My Sweetest Harper,
From the moment I knew you were growing inside me, I loved you.  I dreamed of the little baby you would be, and the girl you would become.  I worried for you, I prayed for you, and I even ate more veggies for you.  On the night you were born, as your dad held my hand and you made your way into this world, you took our breath away with your spirit.  You were mad and beautiful and overwhelmingly perfect.  You've changed our lives over these past months, and although it’s said by every new parent out there – I can’t believe there was ever life without you.  You light up my world and I marvel at you each day.  You learn and grow so fast.  Your smiles melt me and I cannot help but giggle every time you do.  I watch you solve problems and chew on your fingers and I imagine you one day watching a baby of your very own. 
I want you to know, through every moment, the storms and the sunshine, that you are loved, uncontrollably, unconditionally, wholeheartedly.  You will always be loved.  I want you to grow up to be a strong, loving, caring woman who is confident in who she is.  I want you to know it’s ok to have questions.  I want you to never stop learning.  I want you to be a source of good to all of those around you.  I want you to dream big.
 I hope you appreciate spring flowers and autumn breezes.  I hope you love family dinners and your daddy’s cooking.  You better like having your picture taken and getting hugs in front of your friends.  I hope you are filled with compassion and never take your life for granted.  I hope you laugh and love and give and create.  I pray you never forget God’s love for you, and that you radiate this joy. 
You fill my heart, to the brim.  I love you so very much little one.  I always will.Mom

We actually got a few really good family photos, which makes me quite happy too!

Oh, and I made this lemon cake for the first time, and it was AH-Mazing!  Seriously, make it.  It was easy and pretty. (I forgot the poppy seeds and kind of glad I did.  Also, add more powdered sugar for the glaze than what it calls for.  The glaze was more like a clear doughnut glaze than what it shows, but still good!)

All in all, it was a beautiful day, reminding us all about how wonderful it is to have a loving, supportive family helping you raise your baby.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Giveaway Winner

Congrats to Kacy, winner of the photo session giveaway from Dorothy Nicole Photography!

Thanks, all, for playing along!  And don't forget that If you contact Nicole in April to book a session you can get 25% off your session fee and prints.

Thanks Nicole for this giveaway!  And definitely check out Nicole's site and blog, especially if you are in the market for some photos any time soon! (she's on Facebook too!)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Love One Another.

Don't forget to enter the photo session giveaway Atlanta-area friends!! (Ends Sunday!)

The past few weeks, we've been talking in our small group about how very crucial it is to love one another. It's a poignant coincidence, on a week (year? decade?) when we've seen such sadness, but also endless examples of people doing just that - loving one another. We've been talking about how, as a Christian, loving one another is the most important "rule" to follow, trumping all others. This isn't a bad rule to follow, regardless of faith. And unfortunately, this obligation of love is often forgotten, submerged under judgement and self-righteousness, breezed over as soft or irrelevant. It's undoubtedly the hardest "rule" of all to follow. It's ambiguous and slippery, and requires pushing down all of those selfish actions and feelings that bubble to the surface in all of us.

But it's also embraced by so very many, often the ones who go about quietly, unnoticed and not seeking credit. I relish the times when these lovers, these good-doers, who operate their lives in a way that radiates love to every person around them, get noticed. Big actions, little actions, we should always find ways to show love to those around us, especially the ones who are needing it the most.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Photo Session Giveaway!

this giveaway has ended - see the winner here

No, not by me, thank goodness.  

Atlanta area readers - this one's for you!! 

Recently, Nicole from Dorothy Nicole Photography reached out to me.  She's new to the Atlanta area and is trying to promote her photography business and let people know she's here.  When she offered to give away a free mini session for my readers, I said sure!  I love a freebie, especially when it's supporting a local business.  

I'm sure you know by now, if you have been reading my blog for about five seconds, that I am obsessed with pictures, especially now that Harper is in the mix.  And I'm sure many of you are the same way.  

If you live in the metro Atlanta area, you might have noticed there are like, a million photographers out there.  And it's sort of intimidating.  There are so many who are big-name, fancy-pants ones who only shoot the elite of Buckhead.  Then there are smaller ones who you don't even know if they are legit or robots because their websites are a little... well... 

Anyway.  Nicole is right in the perfect middle!  Take a look at her photo galleries and you will see she takes excellent photos - families, babies, senior portraits, even weddings! - but is very approachable and reasonable.  She even works out of Fayetteville (right next to Peachtree City!), which I love, because there aren't many southside-based businesses easily found out there.  

Nicole is offering my lovely local readers a free mini session (30 mins) along with 10 images (with a print release!).  Who wouldn't want that?

Here's how to enter:
 *You need to live in the metro Atlanta area.  Nicole works on the south side of the city and is an on-location photographer - you all would work out a location of your choice somewhere in that area.*

1. Follow Dorothy Nicole Photography on Facebook and leave a comment telling me who would be the star of your session if you won (your kiddo?  your family?  your husband in Glamour Shot type clothing?)
 2.  For an extra entry, share a link to this giveaway post on any sort of social media (just leave me another comment letting me know you did so!).

That's it!  And definitely check out Nicole's site and blog, especially if you are in the market for some photos any time soon! (she's on Facebook too!)

And if you don't win:  If you contact Nicole in April to book a session you can get 25% off you session fee and prints.

Best of luck!  Enter any time between now and Sunday, April 21st at noon! 

The details:
Nicole contacted me about this giveaway as a way for her to reach out to the Atlanta community.  I was not paid or perked for this post - the opinions are alllll mine - and I just was happy to give my readers something fun!  The winner will be chosen by and notified via email and on this blog.  The winner will be put in touch with Nicole and you all can work out all details together - it's out of my hands once you win!   

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Birthday Girls

Two of my favorite little girls, our lovely nieces, turned 3 this spring.  

It feels like such a short while ago that we got the good news that both my sister and my sister-in-law were expecting -- mere weeks apart!  We went from zero babies in our lives to 2, just like that.  Now both of those ladies are expecting again - one due in just a few weeks, the other due later this fall.  I can't wait!  But back to the big girls.  

Baby Ava

Baby Lyla
Both Ava and Lyla have been such a blessing in our lives.  They taught us how babies work and gave us invaluable practice for the time when our own little girl arrived.  They showed us how easy it is to love a little girl so much you could burst.  They showed me how heartwarming it can be to see a little one yell out "TONY!!" and run in for a hug (kids love him, like LOVE him, always).  They made us want to spoil them.  They made us treasure every moment we see them.  They both love our little girl like good cousins should, sharing toys and hugs and kisses, and both always wanting to help feed bottles and change diapers (with mixed results).  We love these little girls so very, very much.  They bring joy to our lives.

Really holding a baby for the first time (Ava)

Hogging Lyla

We got to go to both of their birthday parties this year.  Both seemed to share the common denominator of lots and lots of pink.  

Ava's birthday: 

Ava and her dad

Tea party with Uncle Tony

 Lyla's Princess Party:

These were so good.  I ate one whole row of them.

My sister's such a creative decorator!

Cousin love

This sums it up:  the girl is obsessed with Hello Kitty.

We love you little girls, so very much.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Things I did today that were stupid

Things I did today that were stupid:

- I decided to make pinto beans for Harper from scratch, like from the bean, not the can. Wait so I have to soak them?? Ugh. Glad I know exactly what's going into her food, but next time girl is getting canned. And seriously, I have refried beans for a million people over here, if you're interested.

- I spent all of glorious nap times finishing a book.  And being mad at the book.

- I went outside. Yes, it was a glorious day, all 80s and sunshine. But I've sounded like a toad for a week because of the awful pollen that coats every single inch of everything these days, and now I'm toadier. My neck is red from me clawing at it like a bird every time I cough the sandpaper pipsqueak cough. But we went outside. And swung (swang?) and Harper loved it. Worth it. [proof]

- I looked In the mirror today in full midday light, baby on hip, wet hair slicked back into a messy knot, no makeup in sight, wearing a black tee shirt that may or may not be maternity still, eyes red and watery from said pollen, dabs of banana here and there, and really looked. And that was the stupid part. I really looked. And for the first time ever, literally ever, I said to myself: I look old.

- Most stupidly: I wallowed. Ever do that? (Ha no one ever, right?) Like, I got hung up on one little sad thing (not the being old, I accepted that, something else) and it snowballed. Everything "went wrong" from the moment I decided I was sad and pitiful. Harper rubbed squash inside her eyeball for the hundredth time and I determined she was out to get me. She pooped through literally 3 outfits too (who knows why) and she was clearly trying to get in my head. I had quite a few dishes to do and OMG ALL I EVER DO IS DISHES AND LAUNDRY AND POOP PATROL AND SNEEZE annnnd you get the idea. I indulged my bad attitude and sads for a while, shed a tear, Tony let me, kindly, and then I apologized for wallowing. I don't want to be a wallower. Allowing a bad attitude to take root and fester is a slippery slope. I've been down that slope in varying degrees and for varying lengths of time these past few post-baby months, but I want to try to snap out of it when I can. Out of the mud, wallower.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Baby Shower

My sister and brother in law are having another baby in the next few weeks (yay!) and we are so excited to have a nephew.  It's been all girls all the time around here so far, so a little baby blue is exciting!  

My mother-in-law and I had the pleasure of hosting a shower for the mama-to-be at their house down in Columbus, GA.  We kept it simple, but I couldn't resist totally copying taking inspiration from lots of Pinterest goodness for the decorations, because why not.  Since Isaac's new room has a sailboat type theme, I went nautical.  And then shamelessly wore clothes that matched the decorations.

I made a little chalkboard print on the computer and thanks to the awesome inspiration from Shannon of Shannanigans and mastermind behind Bottle Pop Party Company. I printed it via a   Staples engineer print (my first foray  I was nervous!) and it turned out great!  Especially since it was under $2!  [Shannon can actually design one of these for you, fyi!]

I made a little cake banner thing that is all the rage on Pinterest, because, again why not.  It turned out pretty cute, I thought.

I decorated the skewer by painters taping it and painting the spiral.  

Also, Publix made my cake a very strange blue color, so it didn't really match, but oh well.

Pennant banner, of course.

I made up a little "wishes for baby" sheet using the pro's program of choice: PowerPoint.  (again, majorly copying using Pinterest as inspiration).  The silverware got inconveniently tied with twine.

And then we partied.

The mama and her mama

Myself, Jennifer, and Tony's mom Michele

My baby loves a good beard.
Congrats Jon and Jennifer and sister Ava!  We can't wait to meet little Isaac!
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