Category Archives: Hadley


I know you’re not supposed to admit to having a real preference about the gender of your child. It’s one of those things that people seem to have no problem asking you about, but I always feel like my response is restricted to “as long as we have a happy and healthy baby we don’t care.” And really, what does your preference even matter. To quote my six-year-old niece “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

Well, when I was pregnant with Hadley, I did kind of care. The idea of having a boy really terrified me. No doubt this came from growing up with four sisters. And I ‘m just a girl’s girl… I don’t get the stereotypical guy stuff like sports or catching frogs or getting dirty. Of course the whole concept of becoming a mom was really overwhelming the first time around, but thinking about changing a boy’s diaper for the first time in my life absolutely terrified me. So I have to admit that when I heard “girl” during my twenty-week ultrasound, I was a little relieved. And so excited to meet my girl.

This time around, I can honestly say I was 50/50 about it. I felt excited about another precious girl and a sister for Hadley, but also the idea of a boy was no longer so scary (maybe because I’ve since changed a boy’s diaper and survived). But someone else had a strong preference. Hadley made her thoughts on the matter clear from the moment she learned her sibling was on the way. It would be a girl, or it would be a girl.

Her determination for a girl I know is pretty typical, since I myself went through something similar when I was about to become a big sister. I spent five and a half (glorious) years being the youngest in our family. You could say the news of a sibling coming to steal my spotlight was a little rough for me. I released some of this angst during preschool art time, by drawing a picture of a baby cradle with a knife over it. My explanation to my parents was simply that the baby better not be a boy. So that’s about as disturbing as it gets. Fortunately, the baby was a girl and never did I intentionally harm her (that I’m aware of). In fact, I adored her and still do. I’m fully aware that kids act out, say crazy things, and it’s our tendency as parents to freak out and worry that we are doing the wrong thing and ruining them. But with this comparison in mind, I think Hadley will be okay.

Still, we tried our best to prepare her. We told that she might get the sister she dreamed of (thanks a lot, Frozen) but if she got a brother that would be pretty great too. A brother would still be fun to play with and wouldn’t steal your clothes (no small issue in a house full of girls, I’ll just tell you). She has plenty of friends that are boys and two boy cousins that she loves.

The night before the gender reveal, we talked her through it again. “Hadley, tomorrow we will find out if you’ll have a baby brother or baby sister!”

She looked at us seriously. “Find out sister.” It honestly felt like an order. The knife over the cradle image briefly flashed through my mind.

Really, we should have known that she would get her way. Her sister will be here in another four months, and we are all so excited. For me, learning the gender makes it all feel more real.

I do recognize how it will undoubtedly be a season of adjustment for all of us. I’ll be going from one baby to two (three, if you count Henry which some days is totally valid). Hadley will get her sister, but will also have her world completely rocked when it doesn’t revolve around her anymore. And Josh is going to be seriously outnumbered, poor guy.

But we are getting ready as best we can. Earlier this week, while going through baby girl clothes, Hadley was having a blast checking to see if the newborn clothes would fit the baby. How can she tell, you ask? Well, simply by pulling up Mom’s shirt, placing the item of clothing on my belly and declaring “It fit her.”

And my heart just about melted on the spot when she brought a sweater over and told me “I keep my baby sister warm.”

Oh, baby sister I wish you knew how much you are loved already.

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Filed under Hadley, Mom, Motherhood, Parent, Parenthood, Pregnancy, toddler

A Day at the Farm

With an active now two-year-old on my hands and the blessing of an unusually cool, gorgeous summer, I’ve been trying to get us out of the house as much as possible. When we’re home, Hadley has a hard time keeping herself entertained. I hear the sweet phrase “Mom, play me” uttered countless times a day, which to be honest, starts to lose a little bit of the sweetness as the day wears on. When we’re out and about there is so much to distract and excite her… not to mention wear her out so she takes a nice, long nap! 

Last week we met up with my sister Chelsea and her boys and spent the morning at Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA. We LOVE this place. It’s absolutely gorgeous and completely centered around kids, which is of course the whole point. The kids had a blast running/ falling through the orchard, picking peaches, visiting animals (including the cutest baby goat in the world), and spending time together on the farm. 

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Trains & Trolleys & 2 Two-Year-Olds

Yesterday was a big day over here. Hadley turned 2 and all of our local family came over to celebrate her and cousin Henry, whose birthday is exactly two weeks before. It seemed too cruel to subject our family to two toddler parties back to back, so my sister and I decided to combine them. Since Hadley loves all things Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with a specific obsession of trolley and Henry loves trains, we picked a trains and trolleys theme. Hadley has been talking about her “try-try” party for weeks. As my dad pointed out several times, a two-year-old might never remember the grand efforts made by their mothers (in fact, this morning Hadley mostly only recalled that she had to share her balloons with her cousins, lovely toddler that she is)…. and for this reason, I took lots of pictures.




















Happy Birthday to our sweet Hadley girl. You make life so much better.

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Christmas: Part Two

As usual, I was stressed about all the wrong things this Christmas. This should be a lesson to stress less in general but… I think it might just be who I am so I’m going to let it go for now. As you know, I was really nervous about the long car ride with a seventeen month old who protests the moment she SEES her car seat. But in spite of that, we had a couple of things on our side this time. Normally our trek through the mountains of West VA involves some kind of precipitation in various form of ICE, gusting wind, semi-truckers who don’t seem to have a real grasp on how massive they are, and of course, the road to get there is windy and treacherous. Josh LOVES driving next to his anxiety-ridden wife, especially when I gasp and grab the Oh shit handle as we pass trucks, or when I demand that we never drive behind anything carrying logs, and the best– pointing out the dumb asses who are texting while driving. I seriously want a sign that I can hold up to my window, calling these people out for their recklessness. I mean do you drivers not see the perilous CLIFF to our right?? Or your kid in the backseat? And my BABY in my backseat? Okay, I’ll simmer down. Our drive was pretty easy. For starters, it was a balmy 65 degrees meaning no ice, no crazy wind. Also on our side? A happy baby. Hadley didn’t sleep at all, but she also didn’t scream. We DID listen to the Elmo CD for an excruciating seven times on repeat, but you do what you gotta do to keep the kid content or at least quiet.

I was grateful that we arrived without incident or major stress, and even more grateful that we got to spend a relaxing week with Josh’s family. His parents are so great about giving us a break from the baby so we can do exotic things like have a meal at a restaurant, go see a movie in the actual theater, and shop without worrying about when Hadley will get tired of being strapped in a cart. Last year Hadley was only five months old and still refusing a bottle, so leaving her was difficult and stressful and not really worth it. Now she is more than happy to hang out with Nana and “My Bumpa” as she calls them. 

I love the Christmas Eve service at the church. Simple message, beautiful music, and the peaceful lighting of the candles. I remember last year my sister-in-law Joni and I were SO stressed about bringing the babies to the service. Any church service is stressful with babies, but particularly the quiet and peaceful ones involving open flames. Of course, since I was worried about it, infant Hadley was absolutely fine. And consequently, I wasn’t stressed about it at all this year, and toddler Hadley was the opposite of fine. At the start of the program, she decided that she needed to be part of the nativity display at the front of the chapel. If a seventeen-month-old blond baby jabbering to the animals in the stable weren’t distracting to the rest of the congregation, the moment she shouted “BUMPA” to her grandfather giving the sermon certainly was.

So here’s where we spent the Christmas Eve service. 


                                       Thankfully, she found another nativity display to mess with


                                                      Please can’t I go inside and see my Bumpa?



                                                                            She eventually found him

As much as I was convinced that Hadley wouldn’t really understand what was going on Christmas morning, she picked up on the present thing pretty quickly. Since she (we) love accessorizing, one of her stocking gifts was a pack of hair bows. A few presents later, she got another hair bow from Josh’s mom. She looked up at me and said “More?” Yep, baby girl, that’s pretty much how the day will go. Followed by the inevitable overdosing on food, and the subsequent falling asleep in front of the television after dinner. 

We spent a lot of time just watching Hadley and her cousin Sophie interact. Some of my best childhood memories are vacations with my extended family, and I LOVE it that Hadley is always surrounded by her cousins. Built-in playmates for life. Always someone to do Ring Around the Rosey with and for Hadley, it doesn’t get much better than that. 




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Christmas: Part One

Holidays with a one-year-old are a little tricky. On the one hand, she doesn’t get what is going on. I took full advantage of this last year. Hadley’s first Christmas presents included a stocking, some Christmas pajamas, and toys purchased by her grandparents. I mean, she slept through the whole thing. But of course this year, she is an entirely different creature and I feel like I should do more. Last December she was an immobile infant with dark brown hair and her vocabulary included giggles and cooing. Now she’s an active toddler, somewhere between a brunette and blonde, talking up a storm, and at times a wild woman. We’ve left the baby stage and are stepping into the territory where we can start doing psychological damage. Your parents didn’t get you any toys for TWO years in a row?? Wow, they must really not love you. Okay, even if it doesn’t come to that, I want to get her new things that will bring joy to that sweet little face. But I also don’t want to overwhelm, overstimulate, and overdo it. KEEP IT SIMPLE. That’s my mantra.

As part of this grand effort to be minimal, we are adopting the tradition of giving Hadley three gifts for Christmas. I first read about this on, one of my favorite blogs. As she hilarious puts it, “Listen, Jesus only got three gifts. Are you really prepared to argue that you deserve more presents on GOD’s birthday than God got on God’s OWN birthday?” – See more at:

Luckily, since she’s one, we don’t have to reason it through with her or explain anything. In fact, the only real problem so far is my own tendency to get carried away. Damn you Amazon for making it far too easy to click, buy, and show up at my door 48 hours later. Oh and the suggestions of other products I might enjoy, plasticky pink treasures that in my dreams will keep my toddler entertained for hours? These too are wastes of money. In fact, what will actually keep her entertained is trying to squeeze into the cardboard box that the toy arrives in. I can’t tell you how many boxes have kept her happy for how many hours. This is what I have to remind myself when I get tempted to overspend.

Another contributing factor in our keep-it-simple plan is that we celebrated with my family a couple of weeks early. BREAKING UP THE PRESENTS is huge. My Mom was in town to get some stuff done on their new house (ten minutes away from us!!), and so yesterday we hosted my parents and two local sisters and their families for a little Christmas celebration. It was the perfect Christmas kick-off. Snow was falling as first we feasted, while the older kids tried to eat with presents for them in the next room – no easy task. And then after the lunching was done, they had to wait even longer for sleeping Hadley to wake from her nap. I was happy to let her sleep through the gift opening, but the grandparents insisted that all grandkids be present for presents. When I came down with Hadley in my arms, I’m sure her cousins have never been quite so happy to see her. She beamed at their joyful faces, thrilled to be the center of their attention. Ignorance is truly bliss.

Seeing how delighted Hadley was in her two presents just reconfirmed that we’re doing the right thing by trying our best to keep it simple. No, she doesn’t yet understand why the toys are arriving for her. Nor did she expect more than she was given. One more toy wouldn’t have made a difference to this face.

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So as an adult, as a parent, as an almost thirty-year-old, you would think that I would have internalized what I’m trying to teach my child. I think my intentions are good, of keeping it simple, remembering what is important and why we spend this time of year celebrating with loved ones. I might have moved on from the sick-with-anticipation for presents chapter of my life, but I am happy to have pretty things showing up for me on Christmas morning. Do I end up shopping for myself when I had every intention of hunting for good deals for Josh on Gilt? Guilty. Did I pout when I found out Josh hadn’t yet purchased anything in addition to the presents I had already picked out for myself, and then had him enter the credit card information – just to make sure that he bought it for me. It’s possible. And then of course he got me something else because of my clear disappointment. Oh, the shame.

The thing is, I don’t have Hadley’s excuse of not knowing what is going on. But I do have the excuse of being human, and therefore, very forgetful. We need to be reminded, year after year, what this season is really about. My reminders often come to me through Christmas hymns. I’ve been singing my favorite ones to Hadley each night before bedtime. The weight of her in my arms, clad in penguin footsie pajamas, pressing her face to my chest as I lull her to sleep after a day of toddler highs and lows, this is when my heart opens and the light creeps in.

“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray”

“With the poor, the mean and lowly
Lived on earth our Savior holy”

“And our eyes at least shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love
For that child, so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above”

“Mild he lays his glory by
Born that man no more may die”

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices
Oh night Divine, Oh night when Christ was born”

How often have I sung the words to these cherished songs, year after year? And how often do I think about their meaning? Definitely not thinking about them when I’m obsessing about the perfect gifts we need in order to be happy. We already are happy, we already are blessed beyond anything I could ever buy, wrap up neatly, and place under the tree.

Oh, and here is some proof of just how blessed we are, sharing a Christmas celebration with family (missing several crucial members in Utah, Florida and London, of course)


Now if I can keep remembering the reason for the season this week with a fevering baby, when I’m frantically getting Christmas cards sent out, or when I’m traveling to West Virginia for six hours in the car with Hadley who LOATHES the car seat, it’ll be a Christmas miracle. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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What I Love Most

If we’re friends on Facebook, you undoubtedly know that these days I post a steady stream of baby pictures.  It’s really hard not to. I have to refrain from making posts daily because I get it… it’s obnoxious. I really don’t want to disappear into my child, or turn my profile into Hadley’s. That’s when the sweetness of being a new mom turns into creepy. The other day I caught myself on the verge of changing both profile picture and cover photo into babies latest photo shoot and I stopped myself just in time. But it is hard not to. She’s constantly being adorable and well, the truth is we hang out a LOT.

With all of this quality time comes so much – laughter, play time on the floor, nursing, diaper changing, dressing, walks around the neighborhood, reading (meaning I read the words while Hadley gnaws on the book), playing with toys and okay, the occasional TV show. I love hanging out with her. I make a conscious effort to soak up every moment because it truly is already flying by.

The thing is, while I am treasuring these moments, occasionally I’ll have the panicked realization that she isn’t going to remember any of them. Which is sad. And I find myself overwhelmed, wanting to share with Hadley all that we are experiencing together right now. I want to be able to tell her, years from now, how precious she has been to me from the moment I met her and all of the things I am learning about being her mom along the way.

When I told my dad that Josh and I were expecting, he said to me in his half-kidding but at the same time serious tone, “I’m so excited. Now you are going to know how much I love you.” And of course he was right. When I can happily sing a made-up song about poop in the middle of changing a dirty diaper, I know exactly what he meant. When I was a baby, I had parents who dragged their tired selves out of bed whenever I decided I needed them. They calmed me when I was upset, kissing away my tears. They changed my (cloth!!!) diapers. They delighted in my baby squeals and every new skill I developed. They protected me, worried about me, and loved me so.  I never really thought about this before, and it’s an overwhelming epiphany.

When I look at Hadley, I want her to know the little things that I adore about her, all the things that are unique and lovely to her. So I’ve started writing them down for her. One day she will read them and even though she won’t remember these moments, hopefully she will realize that she is so very loved. And always has been.

Here are the beginnings of this list, which grows longer each day.

You’ve been smiling at us since the day you were born. You are a CHAMPION sleeper and for that I thank you right now. You’ve been sleeping through the night since you were seven weeks old and now at seven months, you are out for twelve hours straight every night. Way to be. Every morning, you wake up slowly in your crib. I let you babble for a little while before going in and saying “Good morning!” You always light up when you see me and instantly start my day off with pure joy. When you get excited, you start to pant. We think you might have picked it up from Henry (the dog, not your cousin). It’s just the cutest thing. You love bath time, and splashing in particular. You sit in your bath and kick as hard as you can, with the most determined expression on your face. Now that you are big enough to join us for dinner, we love sharing bits of our meal with you. You are a big fan of the greens – avocados, pears, and broccoli. Also meat and beans. When I pick you up out of the crib, you immediately wrap your arms around me tightly. It melts my heart every time. You look so much like your dad (but a much prettier version). The older you get, the more of myself I see in you – mostly your blue eyes.

So inadequate, I know. But for all that I can’t put into words, I have faithfully documented with the camera.

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Baby’s First Portraits … Lots and lots of them

These photos were taken when Hadley was three weeks old by the very talented Rachael Foster, who also took our engagement and wedding pictures. Since she’s almost two months now and changing everyday, I figured I better get these posted.




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