Monday, April 20, 2015

30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me: Growing Up

A while back I came across Jennifer's Blog (Baby Making Machine) and her list of "30 things my kids should know about me" and I instantly fell in love with the idea. So here I go at tackling all 30 prompts and maybe even adding on some bonus questions of my own. 

Today I'm addressing lucky #13 on the list: What’s the hardest part of growing up? 

I think, in general, one of the most difficult part of growing up is moving from a me-centric life to the opposite. When you're a baby you can do absolutely nothing for yourself and while you gain small independences (is that a real word?) over time, for most of your childhood you depend on your parents for so much.

Baby me & my dad|1988

Then adolescence comes around and for most of us we live as if the world revolves around our wants and needs as we really have no one else to care for other than ourselves. You journey into adulthood and if you're like me you eventually get engaged and married and it's all about me-me-me-us-us-us for a while due to the celebrating through parties, showers, and culminating in the beautiful wedding day!

And then for me, adulthood REALLY hit when we brought Presley home. That is the moment where it really went from me-centric to focusing my attention, efforts, energy, thoughts, etc. on a whole different little person.

Me, Tony, & Presley| first week as a family of 3|February 2012

Don't get me wrong, I have loved and cared about another person for lots of years in my husband, but he didn't depend on me in the ways a baby/toddler/child does. It's beautiful and miraculous to be a parent, but it is exhausting and there is a level of self-deprivation attached to being a stay-at-home parent specifically. (Note: there doesn't HAVE to be - and I am fully aware of that - but it is often a reality.) 

It was quite a shock bringing home a baby nine months following our wedding, especially when she wasn't in our plans for that season of our life. Moving from a life where you can do what you want whenever you want without a thought onto a life where most things require careful consideration is quite a leap. And people can warn you of just how big these changes will be but until you experience them yourself it is very hard to really grip.

So, I really miss sleeping in... but I've also gained coffee! And two beautiful, amazing children who no amount of uninterrupted sleep in the world could ever replace.

And more than the superficial challenges that come with adulthood, another struggle of coming into adulthood is the added stress and worry. Whether its meeting deadlines, paying bills, raising children, keeping up with chores (ha...ha...) - it can all feel like an awful lot at times. Those are the kinds of conversations I'm usually having with my sisters or my cousin where one or both of us end up saying, "Being an adult sucks!"

By far one of the hardest parts of growing up is losing the ones you love. It is inevitable that if we are alive then we will one day die. Just thinking about all the people you love leaving you is beyond difficult.

Queen Elizabeth II nailed it. Goodbyes are a very difficult aspect of growing older. Whether we lose the people in our life to death, growing apart, or irrevocable differences. Sometimes it's gradual and other times it is after a conscious effort on your part or theirs. But as QE2 said so well - with most of the grief we experience so much love.

The pain of losing my dad has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life because as you all know, grief is ongoing. It might get easier with time and introspection, but it never goes away. Therefore, a challenge in my life is trying to keep the anxiety at bay when thinking of all the people I love... it's a reminder I have so much to lose.

"In This Diary" by the Ataris came to mind when writing on the topic of growing up.

I guess when it comes down to it... Being grown up isn't half as fun as growing up:
These are the best days of our lives.
The only thing that matters
is just following your heart
and eventually you'll finally get it right.

All things considered, there are amazing and upsetting things about every stage of life we are fortunate enough to experience. Any difficulty we face in growing older means we are living and breathing another day and we owe it to ourselves to find ways to deal with our struggles head on.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Molly is NINE months old.

So, wow. We're less than 3 months away from having a TODDLER!

Another month closer to Mol's first birthday.

We've given her bananas, peas, green beans, eggs (woops), pumpkin, sweet potatoes/yams, pears, and carrots.  On deck is applesauce, avocados, and yogurt.  And she's a fantastic eater... probably making up for the fact that she didn't really start eating solids until she was 8 months old!

Oh and she just started snacking on table food as well - she's tried sweet potato puffs, rice rusks, & tiny bits of blueberry pancakes.

We're still breastfeeding.  We're currently in the stage where she likes to grab my boob while she drinks (out of comfort) but ends up practically mauling my boob!  I've currently got little fingernail size cuts all over my skin.  Thankfully, she's cute and can get away with that kind-of behavior.  I remember Presley used to pinch and scratch my arm fat when she nursed and I HATED it... would end up bleeding and with little bruises... so I am sure this too will pass before I realize it.

We're currently teaching her how to touch people gently as well as how to clap.  Presley has SO MUCH FUN helping me teach Molly these little behaviors.  She will be the first to realize when Molly is trying to clap on her own and will congratulate her enthusiastically.  Presley is such an awesome big sister and Molly already follows her around the house and wants to do everything big sister is doing.  That, and she looks at her so lovingly.  Sometimes Presley has the "get the hell out of my personal space" type of attitude about it... but most of the time Presley is welcoming of the adoration.

Molly is crawling like crazy and loves to chew on paper... and anything else we leave on the floor that she's not supposed to have.

She had your first time in a swing this month and seemed to like it despite her inability to sit up properly.

At her 9 month well visit, Molly measured 26.5 inches tall and weighed 14 pounds & 11 ounces.  (At this age, Presley was 16 pounds & 13.5 ounces and 27.5 inches tall.)  Molly dropped off her growth curve and is currently somewhere around >3% for weight.  We talked it over with her doctor and if it continues this way at her next check up, then we will begin to worry/figure out if it's a bigger issue.  I'm hoping for no underlying health issues... I love her being a tiny little peanut baby and hoping it's just the way she is!  By the way - we LOVE her doctor so so much.  After leaving Dr. Brodd when we moved, I was much more distraught than I probably should have been.  I was sure we would never find another pediatrician like him and as a result I was destined to hate every future doctor of Presley's (because Molly wasn't here yet).  And that's exactly what happened with the first pediatrician we saw... it was an awful fit.  So we tried Dr. Bradley Jones at the Memphis Children's and holy cow - he is a great man! Glad to have found another pediatrician for my kids that I totally trust and who has great bedside manner!

Mol is definitely working on her top teeth coming in so we are teething full force, round two! I cannot wait until they come in and I can see what she looks like with her new chompers.

The weather here has been great and we have visited the zoo several times already... so excited for the beautiful weather to be here to stay!

And since I am so late in posting this, I get to talk about our trip to Nashville! Our nephew, Matthew, had his FIRST birthday so we got to party with him this past weekend.  We went to the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro and it was a blast.  We followed it up by pizza for lunch & hanging out the rest of the day before heading back home.  The kids are adorable together and I love how close they are to a cousin in age... that is so much fun & will continue to be throughout the years.

And finally, Molly's first Easter has come and gone. It definitely makes me happy to see the changes in our family's Easter photo from 2014 to 2015... cracks me up Tony is in his work clothes both photos and just how much his uniform has changed in a year! And then there is little Presley - look at how much she has grown in a year. I go from being pregnant to having a tiny little 9 month old baby girl in 2015 from 2014.

Easter 2015
Easter 2014

This post wouldn't be complete without posting the 9 months in/9 months out photos!

L: Me & Presley and my 9 month baby bump R: Me & Presley with little Miss 9-month-old Molly!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Final 50 Questions (PART TEN!)

Wow, it's hard to believe I started answering these questions over three years ago.  It's been fun and challenging but I'm sure happy to be done with this so that I can move on to the next thing! It's been real, it's been fun... thanks 50 Questions for freeing my mind!

(part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, part eight, part nine)

46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
 Honestly? First thing to mind: I would leave my kids in the car while running errands. It's incredible how many steps there are when it comes to running errands with your kids - especially if the weather is a factor! Goodness... gracious. What would seriously be a 15 second run-into-the-store-and-do-what-you-need-to-do type of trip because a 10 minute ordeal. So yeah, I would leave my kids in my locked car with the windows cracked or something every so often.

47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
 UGH. This happens to me before bed at night. Instead of noticing the sound, though, I will notice the rhythm and how I am not even in control of my breathing, consciously. And then it will become this totally thing where I stop letting my body breathe and my mind starts controlling it and it's awful! Please tell me this happens to other people...

48. What do you love? Have any of your actions openly expressed this love?
 Oh... I love soundtracks. (Right now my favorite is the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack - it has SO MANY of my favorites old - Sia, Skylar Grey, Ellie Goulding, & Beyonce. And new favorites like The Weeknd & Annie Lennox.) I love staying up late to read a book and then sleeping in late the next day. I love when my husband is off work and gets to stay home with us. I love getting a pedicure. I love visiting zoos. I love swimming pools on warm, sunny days and just laying in the sun. I love big family get-togethers. I love cooking. I love warm (not hot) coffee. I love going on a date with my husband - that alone time makes me feel so cherished. I love getting my hair cut. I love and enjoy so many things, people, places... it's hard to list them all but these are several that shot straight to my mind today.
 And I absolutely have to be better about being thankful to the people who help me enjoy these things and to be more expressive about my love of these things. For example, Tony will let me sleep in on his off day. Instead of waking up in a bright mood & ooze gratitude, I will just go about the day normally or even groggily because sometimes more sleep makes me feel even more tired! Tony's letting me sleep in because he loves me & wants to make me happy and it's something for me to acknowledge each time! There is a big difference between stating your appreciation and showing your appreciation; both are important.

49. 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?
 I'm very unlikely to remember what I did yesterday on my own. However, thanks to the Timehop app and all the various social medias that I partake in, I will have some clues to what I was up to.

50. Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
 For the most part, I am the master of my destiny. However, I have two children and one husband to consider in all matters.

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 20th.

Today is the first day of Spring -- FINALLY.  Despite my allergies, I have a deep love for this season.  Spring is known for new life and gives me so much hope for the beauty to come.

But March 20th means much more to me... it's the day that Tony and I made it official and exclusive twelve years ago.  (Though, honestly, we might as well have made it official two years earlier if it wasn't for me being so stubborn!)  I can't say I know any different than the life I've lived, but it has been an amazing experience growing up next to the person you love.  We've seen each other through a little bit of everything... personal hardship, injuries, loss, failure.  And we've been there through new lives joining us, weddings, graduations, new jobs, big moves.  Not to mention our own wedding, pregnancies, child births, and newborn phases.  We've lived in countless houses, one apartment, and purchased our own home. 

And if you would have asked me twelve years ago whether I would be with Tony for the rest of my life, I would have told you yes.  But of course, don't we all believe that at the time?  Especially our first true love?  Our journey was anything but conventional.  We went through all kinds of bumps over those years and I can't count the number of times I've wished I could go back to what I now refer to as my "lost years" and do things differently... but the truth is, I can't.  And all the things in our past truly do make us the people we are today.  I do know that through the most difficult part of my life that he was the glue that held me together, the gravity that kept me planted, and he was the bright and shiny light when I needed to see.  He was my friend through everything and at a time when it seemed like there was no hope for a future with us, he was steadfast that we would find a way.

We knew one another as carefree kids on the soccer fields, awkward adolescents on the way to prom, almost-adults-but-not-quite struggling to find our way, and now as parents to our own beautiful children. 

I'm so thankful that Tony kept asking me to be his girlfriend until I was ready.  I'm so thankful to be married to someone who I love so much.  I'm so thankful for all the stepping stones that lead us to where we are.  I'm thankful for his surprise visits to the Quad Cities from Memphis when we lived 500+ miles apart.  And I'm thankful to have him next to me through life - then and now.

So while this anniversary gets trumped by our wedding anniversary these days, it's a breath of fresh air to think back on where we were so many years ago.  It fills me with so much awe & appreciation to remember the beautiful, unadulterated love we had for each other and where it all began.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Reading Challenge

I've been planning to write about this for the longest time.

Last year I challenged myself to read 24 books in 2014.  Doesn't sound too unreasonable... that would average out to two books every month.  Unfortunately, I didn't begin the challenge until the year was already about halfway over.  I didn't make it to 24 -- which most likely had something to do with adding another member to my family -- but I did rekindle my love for reading and I read some great books (the Divergent Series, the 50 Shades of Grey books, Water for Elephants, The Host, The Fault in Our Stars, The Help, Gone Girl, Three Sisters).  So when it came time to set my book challenge this year, I knew 24 books was a reasonable goal.

And then I stumbled upon a reading challenge thanks to a fellow blogger.  My first reaction to the list was that it sounded fun and challenging, for sure, but that it wasn't for me.  Mostly, because I wanted to read the books I wanted to read and I knew this challenge would force me to try something new.  But when I kept thinking about the list of prompts, I knew I had to give it a try.  I'm on my 9th book since the new year and there is no sign of slowing down.

So far I haven't branched out too far from what I would be likely to read without the help of this challenge aside from reading "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica.  It's a mystery/thriller book and those aren't the types of books I usually gravitate towards.  It reminded me of how I felt while reading "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn -- which is probably because that's one of the only other mystery/thriller type books that I've read.  But goodness, "The Good Girl" was FANTASTIC.  Devastating and fantastic.

I really, really loved the Beautiful Creatures books but I haven't been able to get into the spin off series, Dangerous Creatures.  I don't know if after 5 books from the series that I was just burnt out on their story, or if it was from the new perspective that I just didn't care for... either way, I decided to move on for the time being.  And I'm glad I did because after finishing "Beautiful Redemption" I decided to (finally) read "If I Stay" by Gayle Forman and I was blown away by how much I loved that book.  The second book, "Where She Went" was a book I finished with lighting speed... I just did NOT want to put it down and flew through the pages.  Gayle Forman said she isn't writing any more books in that series -- and I like her reasoning for it (hint: Don't look up her reasoning if you haven't read both books yet) BUT I hate that we don't get to know what happens after the books end.  That book hangover really gets me after reading books where the characters completely come to life for me... I guess I have a hard time moving on from things, in general.

I like that this book challenge has been something solo for me to do while sharing it with other people, too.  My sister, Amanda, has taken up the book challenge, too, and that has made it all a hundred times more fun for me.  It's been fun trying to find books to fit in each category and then comparing our lists.  If that's not considered "nerdy" then I'm not sure what is!

Just a few of the books I plan to tackle for the challenge:

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler (A funny book)
"PRO" by Katha Pollitt (A book with a one-word title)
"The Opposite of Loneliness" by Marina Keegan (A nonfiction book)
"Wonder When You'll Miss Me" by Amanda Davis (A book written by an author with your same initials)

...and plenty more.  Up next of my books to read: "Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld (A book set in the future).

Let me know what books you've read, books you'd recommend, and books you're reading!
Also - still slowly chipping away at our Oscars movie list! We've seen some really great ones this year and several more to go before Feb. 22! What have been your favorite Oscar Nominees so far??