Tag Archives: mom

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.

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

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A Day at Gettysburg: Proof That I Love My Husband

One of the really fun things about Hadley getting older is seeing her world of people expand from me and Josh to so many others that love her. Of course, those people have always been there but for a long time she was pretty much just really into her mom and sometimes her dad. Saying that she had separation anxiety is putting it mildly. Not only would it upset her that I left, she would be upset whenever I started to walk away from her. And continue to be upset until I picked her up and held her. Of course it’s nice to be loved and needed, but it can also be exhausting (especially when your little one is 25 pounds). So now I am all the more grateful to see her LOVE going to nursery (she actually cheers “Church!” “Church!” as we near the building), and watch her develop bonds with other people. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t want to talk about them, especially her many cousins, aunts and uncles and of course, grandparents.

Now that my parents are ten minutes away, she gets lots of time with Granddad and Sue Sue, which is really fun. This past weekend, we all took a trip up to Gettysburg. NOT the most toddler friendly place (or Erin-friendly place) in the world, actually pretty much the opposite, but we somehow still had a great time. I kept the one-year-old entertained so the other adults could soak up the history of the place. I loved how beautiful it was and that Hadley could run around the countryside. I cared less for the thorough history lesson, but was happy to make my military-obsessed husband happy. He is already excited to go back, sans me and the baby next time I’m pretty sure. 

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And before you start to think I’m the worst mom in the world, that is a GINGER beer she is chugging in the last picture. I am pretty sure she thought it was beer though. 

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Spring, Please Come Back

This past weekend pretty much embodied what a rollercoaster this spring has been. We spent Saturday outdoors, grilling steaks in the sun, finally remembering what it was like to not need a heavy coat, not even a jacket. And then just a day later, we sat inside a winery tasting room and watched as snowflakes fell. Ugggghhhhhhh.

You would think that with all the time we’ve spent indoors as of late, all the hours spent wondering how we should stay productive and NOT rot away in front of the television that I would have gotten a few more blogs posted. But this brutal winter has made it REALLY difficult for me to find motivation to do anything except gut it out. Instead of continuing to whine about how we still have scarves and furry hats out in at the END of March or that there is still a bag of salt sitting out of the front porch because they’re again calling for snow tomorrow, I’m trying to think about all of the things that I will look forward to when the sun returns.

  1. One less thing to say no to. I have a nineteen month old. She happens to love the following: pulling open every drawer, dumping out every bag she can get her hands on, pouring milk out of sippie cups, and just generally making messes. I really hate messes. I also really hate how often I find myself saying no to that curious little one. And almost every day this winter we’ve been going through this little dialogue. Mama? Outshide? Snow. She shuts down her own question before I can even answer. I mean really my one-year-old must think she’s being raised in Siberia. But someday soon I’ll be able to respond YES everyday to that sweet little request!
  1. Walks. I love being able to walk places. Especially with a baby, it’s a huge pain to load them up in the car and have a destination point in mind. I like to wander, get fresh air, exercise without thinking about it. Plus Henry is getting a little chunky, poor little guy has been so cooped up and sedentary.
  1. Seeing green. I lived in Utah for eight years. While the west has it’s own kind of beauty, my heart always longed for the rolling green hills of Virginia. I NEED GREEN, please. I’m sick of bare branches and a world covered in snow or mud.
  1. Seeing people. I literally haven’t seen most of my neighbors since November. I mean are we bears?!!
  1. Shower beer. Don’t judge and definitely don’t knock it till you’ve tried an icy cold beer in a steamy shower on a hot summer day. Literally. Nothing. Better. These days all I want is red wine, which basically just means I’m really cold. 
  1. Sandals. I never thought I would say it, but I’m SO sick of boots. My feet need to breath, my toes need to be seen again.  
  1. Tan line. I need one. That’s it.
  1. No longer resenting my dog for making me walk him first thing in the morning. I mean it’s not Henry’s fault. Really I should think less about how mad I am for having to bundle up and go outside and more about how much it would suck to have to poop in snow.
  1. Less bronzer. Can I please just have some sun-kissed cheeks? And really, at this point bronzer only works so well on skin this pale.  
  2. Goodbyes to layers. I’m all about effortless style. Now that I’m a mom, I don’t have the whole morning to accessorize. Instead of pulling my socks on BEFORE my jeans so they don’t get bunched up under my boots, figuring out what scarf to pair with my shirt and what purse will go with the scarf AND my coat, I’m dreaming of the day when I simply slip into sandals, pull on a sundress and GO. The only layering I want to have to think about is which dress to wear over my bikini.

Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer for these small dreams to come to life. I mean spring HAS to come at some point, right? Are polar vortexes possible in April? Don’t answer that. Here are a couple (ONLY a couple) of rare moments we’ve been able to enjoy outside this spring.

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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. 

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                                       Thankfully, she found another nativity display to mess with

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

 

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                                                                            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 Momastery.com, 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: http://momastery.com/blog/2013/11/25/keep-simple-sisters/#sthash.HSB8E1gR.dpuf

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)

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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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Lessons in Hosting

When we moved to our new house, one of the things we were most excited about was being able to properly host. Our old house was fine for just us, but our teeny tiny combination living room, dining room, kitchen could be easily filled with a handful of friends. We never even really had my family over because there’s just too many of them. And then once we had Hadley, having people over was even more stressful. Nothing makes you feel more like a hosting failure than shushing your guests for laughing too loud when your baby is trying to sleep just a few yards away. 

Now that we have more space, and a basement with a guest room and sleeper sofa, we have been making up for lost time hosting. Since moving in five months ago, we have had either family or friends staying in our guest room on eleven different occasions! And that’s of course not counting the dinners, birthday parties, and family get togethers. It’s been really great to spend all this time with our loved ones, and I love how Hadley is used to having adoring grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends surrounding her. And I think I am getting better at it. It certainly does not come natural to me. As the fourth of six children, I’m not used to being the one who takes charge. Now that I’m a mom, I am always leading and thinking about someone else’s needs before my own. So I’m trying to learn this skill, and also the skill of NOT trying to perfect everything. Because as soon as my house is spotless, people come and live in it and it’s messy again. So, really it’s okay if my mother-in-law sees that sometimes my refrigerator is not completely wiped down and organized. 

For Thanksgiving this year, Josh’s family came from West Virginia to stay with us for a few days. It was bitterly cold this week, but luckily Hadley and her cousin Sophie keep each other entertained. Those little blondies could be sisters with how much they resemble each other, and they get along really well which is nice. And plus they are just SO sweet together. Lots of kisses, cuddles and fun in the bath together. 

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I was a little nervous about hosting the mother of all meals at my house. It was added pressure for me since we were really hosting for the whole week, not just the meal, and my sisters were coming over for dessert with their families. The day before our West Virginia family arrived, I went shopping to scrounge up some last minute Thanksgiving decor. At Hobby Lobby, I learned that I am a deadbeat crafter because the rest of the world has already moved on to Christmas. Three days before Turkey day, and there was one measly aisle of Thanksgiving decor left. The upside was that everything remaining was 80% off. So I grabbed a couple of florals to potentially arrange into name card holders, chargers, and of course some burlap. And then at the last minute I decided to stock up on wrapping paper to avoid feeling like a procrastinator again for the next holiday.

Good news is everything came together really nicely. It was actually one of the most civilized Thanksgivings I’ve been a part of. We all contributed a couple of dishes, and having two ovens is simply a game changer. And the best part for me? Hadley napped through the whole meal so I got to eat a hot meal without sharing a bite. For that I was most thankful. 

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Just A Little Update

When my sister-in-law recently informed me that my last blog post was over six months ago, I was surprised. Not that I hadn’t posted in that long. I couldn’t believe anyone had noticed my absence. It’s probably no coincidence that my blogging took a hit when Hadley started moving. I used to be able to nurse her and type at the same time. And then of course when she started crawling, she started touching everything and trying to destroying some things – things like laptops and other expensive technological items. So that’s one of my excuses and the other is that life has been even busier than usual these past few months.

The biggest news is that we moved! We sold our sweet little Cape Cod in Falls Church and bought a house about an hour northwest, in Purcellville. It has been great… plus I really love that now I can say we live in wine country. The pace of life feels slower but not too slow. People are noticeably friendlier. We love our house, especially being able to host lots of friends and family. We live in town, and it’s so nice to be able to walk everywhere. In Falls Church we had to get in our car to go anywhere. I love being able to walk to the Farmer’s Market and the library with Hadley. The other day, she threw a fit when we tried to walk by the library without going inside. I’m not trying to read into it too much but I’m pretty sure that means she’ll be a future English major/ book nerd like her mom.

What else – oh yeah, Hadley took her first plane rides – and the first plane for this nervous flier in almost TWO YEARS. In June, we went to Phoenix for Josh’s brothers wedding and the next month to Salt Lake to see my baby sister off on her mission. Two of my best friends moved away (still makes me sad to acknowledge that). Josh and I celebrated our twenty-ninth birthdays, but Hadley really stole the spotlight with her first birthday – welcome to parenthood, right? Actually it was kind of nice to not think about how this is the last year in our twenties and instead focus on how amazing the last year of our life has been with the addition of Hadley.

Here are some photos from this beautiful fall – whyyy must it almost be over??

Out and about, soaking up the jacket and flats weather

Out and about, soaking up the jacket and flats weather

Walking path in our new neighborhood

Walking path in our new neighborhood

She looks like such a toddler in this picture! Sigh.

She looks like such a toddler in this picture! Sigh.

More neighborhood scenery

More neighborhood scenery

Please, can’t we stay outside just a little bit longer?

Huge perk of the move - being closer to cousins. Downside - learning to share.

Huge perk of the move – being closer to cousins. Downside – learning to share.

We spent a beautiful day in Harper's Ferry

We spent a beautiful day in Harper’s Ferry

The view from Dad's shoulders is a great one

The view from Dad’s shoulders is a great one

Hamming it up with some of her favorites

Hamming it up with some of her favorites

She's crazy, but we love her

She’s crazy, but we love her

GRAVEL!!!!!!!!!!!!

GRAVEL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hadley adores her Grampa or Bumpa, as she calls him

Hadley adores her Grampa or Bumpa, as she calls him

We took a mini vacation to the Virginia countryside and left Hadley home with grandparents. Amazing time and beautiful place!

We took a mini vacation to the Virginia countryside and left Hadley home with grandparents. Amazing time and beautiful place!

Visiting Avery at UVA. Now that she lives in Charlottesville, lunch together is a rare luxury!

Visiting Avery at UVA. Now that she lives in Charlottesville, lunch together is a rare luxury!

Not an uncommon sight in our house...

Not an uncommon sight in our house…

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