Sunday, September 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Caroline!

Happy Birthday to my precious 1-year-old baby girl! On this date just one short year ago, you came into this world and changed my life forever. How you managed to steal my heart so instantly and completely I will never totally understand, but I do know that this world is a happier place with you in it. Thank you for making us smile every day for an entire year, for wrapping our hearts around your chubby little baby fingers and melting us with the sweetest smile in the world. As those same fingers become more and more curious each day and you find your way into the big wide world of toddlerhood, I just want you to know one thing...

I'll love you forever and always, to the moon and back....
times a million.

Happy birthday, sweet Caroline!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Date Night

Dan & I had the chance to go on a real live date this past Friday. It was splendid! We went out to a nice Italian dinner, roamed around the quaint downtown of Franklin, had some delicious frozen yogurt (at a place where you pay by the ounce...that turned out to be a little dangerous!), walked off our frozen yogurt and decided we just didn't have room for coffee. We felt so free without a stroller or carseat or diaper bag or high chair!
My dear friend Jessica was gracious enough to watch our sweet girl (in addition to her own two) while we were out. It's such a blessing to have friends with whom you are completely comfortable leaving your baby for awhile. And Caroline has an abosolute ball with Mally (10 months) and Caralena (2 1/2)!

Jessica & I had a good laugh over the fact that we had both taken advantage of a recent sale on and purchased the same jammies for our girls (I think I paid $4!). She somehow managed to get a picture of all three sitting still and looking at the camera. Apparently whatever she was doing was holding their attention!

Thanks again, Jessica! We so appreciate it. Caroline can't wait to come back and play again soon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oh Monday

I really dread Monday mornings. In a different way than when I used to work, but I still dread them. Weekends are so fun these days, and it's hard to tell who enjoys the time with Daddy home more - Caroline or me! And Dan can't wait to walk through the door on Friday evening at the end of a long, busy week. He gets quite the reception.

Just the opposite is true of Monday mornings. Dan drags his feet as he prepares for another work week. I lay in bed as long as humanly possible (okay, so maybe that's every morning...), and Caroline doesn't let Daddy out of her sight. She really picks up on when one of us is getting ready to leave, especially when Daddy is getting ready for work.

Eventually he's ready to go, I've drug myself out of bed, fed Caroline, and we make our way to the front door to say good-bye. Then I sit back and watch this heart-breaking scene unfold:

If you look closely, you'll see Daddy standing on the sidewalk. These two gaze longingly at one another for some time.

Inevitibly, Dan makes his way to the truck

and pulls out, with one last wave out the window.

Caroline waves and blows kisses like a crazy person, even after Daddy is long-gone.

Still waving. I evenutally drag her away from the door and we carry on with our morning. But we both miss Daddy terribly and wave to him and blow some more kisses periodically throughout the day.
Come back soon, Daddy! We miss you terribly.
Rotten Mondays.
(Side note: Please excuse the mismatched jammies. Daddy dressed her for bed last night. He claims she picks out her own clothes now. Those two - quite the pair!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So Close

I am so very close to having a true toddler on my hands it's not even funny. Caroline has been taking 2 or 3 steps at a time for the past several days and standing for extended amounts of time...that is, until she realizes what she's doing. As soon as it registers in her sweet little [bald] head that she's standing without any help, she promptly sits herself down. Even though it saddens me to realize that my baby is growing up, it is so fun to watch her discover the world around her a little more each day. Lately, she's really started to recognize objects and their particular uses. For instance, she recently picked up my hair pick and began combing her own "hair," which cracked me up because I had never combed her hair at that point (if you can imagine that!). I have since gotten her a baby brush which she has learned to use correctly (most of the time). The other day I watched as she pulled a washcloth off the shelf and began "cleaning" the fronts of my cabinets. She alo often tries to put Daddy's socks and shoes on her own little feet, too. It's really best when they're clean :)

One of her favorite objects is my cell phone. She's even figured out how to put it up to her ear to listen and talk. Dan dug around and found one of our old phones that no longer works and it has quickly became her new favorite toy.
I used it as a means of distraction yesterday to snap a few pictures of her standing like a big girl.

She's so proud of herself!

Hmm...who's calling me?
Excuse me Mommy, I think I need to take this one.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why I Stay Home

I had a good conversation the other day with a friend of mine who is expecting her first and planning to make the switch from working full time to being a stay-at-home mom. She shared with me some of her [very legitimate] concerns, from the loss of a second income to living up to the pressures often felt from other moms who seem to have it more together than we do. It is truly a completely different world than the working world that most of society lives in from 8 to 5 (or whatever combination of hours happen to pull them to the office), and I truly admire moms (and dads) that find a way to juggle both. I honestly don't know how you do it!

But this conversation was a fresh reminder for me of why Dan and I made the decision for me to stay home, and why I am thankful daily for the opportunity. Sometimes the mundane tasks and chores that are done and re-done day-in and day-out can cloud up the simple, and yet precious moments that I also have each and every day with Caroline. Often times I thank God for the simple blessings, like when I put Caroline back down for her morning nap (usually around 8:30 or 9:00 already) with both of us often still in our jammies. There has been no need to rush, and I relish the slow mornings that allow us to just enjoy one another.

Yesterday I stepped outside for a few minutes just before lunch time and realized that the weather was suddenly and surprisingly cool! So I grabbed a blanket, heated up some leftovers, and Caroline and I had an impromptu picnic on our tiny piece of grass out back. She had an absolute ball! She spent most of the time standing up next to me, leaning on my shoulder, and a couple of times she even leaned in for a snuggle or a kiss which totally and completely melted this mommy's heart. In between bites, she eagerly looked around, taking it all in. Several times a breeze gently pushed at her sweet little face and I watched her eyes get bigger and a smile spread across her face as she let out squeals and giggles. A breeze is something that has been sorely lacking here in the suffocating heat and humidity of middle Tennessee since maybe April...apparently this was a new phenomenon for her :)

The rain moved in soon, so I quickly gathered our things and headed back in. But the fresh air was just so wonderful that we moved to the front porch instead where we could be dry but watch the storm pass at the same time. Caroline sat very still and very quietly on my lap for some time, something my squirmy 11-mo-old is not prone to do at all these days. I just sat back in my rocking chair and enjoyed the moment, quietly giving thanks to God for the opportunity to just sit and hold my growing baby and watch her take in the great big world around her.

The moment passed quickly, as they always do, and before long we were back inside doing our normal thing. There was more laundry and ironing, dishes and cooking, tears and dirty diapers, just like there were the day before and just like there will be again today. But if I had missed a few extra dirty diapers yesterday, I also would have missed a picnic and a nice long rock on the front porch. I wouldn't have seen her face light up in the breeze or her serious expression as she tried to understand the passing storm. I wouldn't have seen her learning to play by herself with my tupperware and a few mismatched blocks, like in this video from yesterday morning.

Everyone tells you, "they grow up so fast!" I believe everyone. This year has absolutely flown by! I realize that no matter how hard I try, I'll never be able to stop time. But today I am grateful for the few extra minutes I am blessed with as a "stay-at-home mom," and for the simple opportunities that those minutes afford me. I may not get much in the form of a paycheck, but I feel like I have the best job in the world!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Good times

We had a great time visiting Shelby & Mitch in their beautiful new home down in Biloxi, MS last weekend. The drive was long, but it was worth every minute of it! I've been slacking with the pictures lately, which has contributed to my blog slacking (who wants to read blogs with no pictures?), and I'm sad to say that I don't have any pictures of our time with our friends. I'm still not sure how that happened! I know Shelby took a few with her camera, so if I get those I'll try and share them with you. In the meantime, I did take some here is a bit of Caroline's playtime with her honorary Aunt Shelby. As you can see, it didn't take long for them to warm up to each other again!

Friday, September 3, 2010

"God's Little Creatures"

I'd like to tell you a little story this morning. A true story of a battle of epic porportions that has raged on and on for month upon month. A story of victories and defeats...but mostly defeats.

This is a story about ants.

Yes, you heard me correctly. This battle began sometime after the flood of early summer and came to a critical moment this morning around 7:30am. But first, a little background.

We're leaving this afternoon to go visit my dearest friend, Shelby. She just finished Dental school a few months ago (she assured me I wouldn't have to refer to her as "Doctor" all the time), then went through officer training last month and is now stationed at the Airforce base in Biloxi, MS with her husband. It's still an 8 hour drive, but hey, it's closer than Nebraska!!! I'm SO excited to spend the weekend with her :)

Except that it means I have a LOT to do today. Like packing, cleaning, running a few errands, and figuring out what all is necessary to bring for an 11-month old for 3 days (probably less than I think, right?). So last night, instead of doing a few of those things before bed and helping ourselves out, Dan & I decided to pretend like we weren't grown-ups and stuck in a movie around 9:45, just for kicks. We were in denial, I'm pretty sure.

So this morning, he slept through his alarm. Somehow, mine went off (even though I was pretty sure I had turned it off yesterday), but he was still late getting around. Which meant he couldn't really help out much this morning with a few of those details.

"But I thought this was a story about ants," you say? I'm getting there, I promise.

So as Dan was grabbing his things and running out the door while I was trying to prompt Caroline to EAT (as always), he kicked the diaper bag and exposed a busy little pile of our favorite friends. He came over and gave us each a kiss, and said in his sweetest voice:

"Ummm....I'm really sorry, but there are ants all over in the corner by the diaper bag." Then, sensing my rapidly growing rage, he added, "Don't get frustrated. Just think of them as God's little creatures!"

And then he promptly ran out the front door.

Seriously?!?! God's little creatures?!? Because I'm pretty sure they're the spawn of Satan himself, sent for the single purpose of making me LOSE.MY.MIND!!!!!!!

I finished feeding Caroline and put her to bed. Then I attacked with ant spray. Then I cleaned up the ant spray with paper towels. Then I vacumed up the dead ants. Then I cleaned the area with Lysol. Then I swept the rest of my floors (AGAIN) and mopped the entire thing (AGAIN). I think they punish me for being lazy and watching a movie instead of sweeping -- they know things. But I'm pretty sure they don't really even prefer a dirty floor to a clean one. Which is even more maddening because it means I'm really not in control of this war.

But right now I'm making myself feel better by enjoying a freshly mopped floor and a cold cup of coffee, and praying that Caroline's nap lasts a little longer so I can actually take a shower and start packing.

I won the battle this morning. But I have a pretty good feeling that this war is not over.