Link UP Week: Sew Cute Tuesday

link up week

What the what? Three posts in one day? Yes, believe it folks… linking up has ignited an uncontrollable fire.  But this is that last link party of the day, I promise. I hadn’t originally intended on doing another but when I found this blog and party I decided it had to be done. Especially since I’d been meaning to share a project that will fit in perfectly with the theme!

Better Off Thread

Welcome to Sew Cute Tuesday hosted by Better Off Thread {hello adorable blog name}. It’s all about sewing or craft projects and it’s about time I shared one that I did back before Christmas. The hubs and I were trying to budget our spending for the holiday and I wanted to make something special for my new nephew, Spencer. I already had the fabric, snagged a few extra rolls of ribbon, and was on my way to making a sweet lovie {tag blanket} for my sweet love!

His nursery has a nautical-lighthouse theme so I wanted to do something along those lines and I decided to use the fishy fabric from Keelin’s 42 week onesie shoot. I had just bought some grey pop-dot fabric for the quilt I have still yet to finish, and decided it was the perfect soft back the blanket needed. I measured and cut the fabric to match and pinned them with the ‘right’ sides facing one another. You should know that I’m a terrible seamstress so my technique is terrible and probably WRONG in the grand scheme of things… but it gets the job done. In the photo below you can also see that I measured out 1/2″ on each edge to help guide me on the sewing machine… yeah, rookie.

tag blanket

I then placed the ribbon tags where I wanted them. I didn’t make any particular symmetry, just wanted enough on each side for him to really grab onto. Remove the pins in the area where you plan on placing a ribbon tag and slide between your pieces of fabric, making sure the end of the ribbon is lined up with the edge of the blanket.

tag blanket

Replace the pins {through the ribbon} and head to the sewing machine.

tag blanket

I assume since you found me on a sewing blog you can basically decipher the rest. I assume since you found me on a sewing blog you can basically decipher the rest. If not, sew each edge completely, making crisp, 90 degree corners. Leave a hole about 1″ to 1 1/2″ so you can flip the blanket right-side-out. I used the tip of my scissors to lightly press in each corner to make sure they were fully inverted. Close the hole and admire the cuteness.

tag blanket

It was a lot of fun to make and even more fun to see in a picture with my nephew!

tag blanket

Hopefully in the next week or so I can link up again to share progress on Keelin’s onesie fabric quilt. It does exist, and there has been progress… but it’s definitely not done. If you have a fun sewing project worth sharing, make sure you join the link party with Better Off Thread!

Until next time…

The mind is a mysterious beast

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for quite some time and I’m finally in a place where I’m OK to at least talk about it. It’s on the heavy-side, so forgive me for starting off your week on such a sullen note. I’m sure some of you can {unfortunately} relate to this experience, so I thought it was time to release the word vomit.

The mind is a mysterious beast.

I’ve been unlucky enough to face the scary and debilitating truth of someone you love “losing” their mind. I’m not talking about going to crazy-town after making a pit-stop in looney-ville. That’s an entirely different story.
I’m talking about losing the parts of your mind that make you who you are.
I’m talking about losing the memories and experiences that have formed your life and your place in it.
I’m talking about walking around the home you’ve lived in for over 50 years, without the ability to recognize that it’s your ‘home’.
Old age, dementia, Alzheimer’s… no matter what you call it or how it’s ‘clinically’ diagnosed… it sucks.

My maternal grandmother was always a fun-loving, active, silly, talented, and sophisticated inspiration. She was a brilliant painter, seamstress, and cook, made the world’s best dinner rolls and cinnamon buns, and always insisted you enjoyed seconds at dinner. But unfortunately, she doesn’t remember all of those wonderful attributes and it’s truly heartbreaking to sit and wonder where that person has gone. The mind is a mysterious beast.

2-3 years ago we started to see signs that something beyond just ‘getting older’ was affecting her memory. Things beyond just forgetting the date or now realizing that you’ve now told your husband the same story three times {heck, I do that}. Now, the same person who loved celebrating {and never forgot} my birthday because she remembered me running around telling everyone it was on “JOON TWELF”, now has to ask “Who is this?” when she looks at my wedding picture. The same person whose beautiful paintings are hanging on the walls of my home, my parent’s home, and my brother’s home {to name a few} now is amazed when she learns that she is the one who painted them. The same person who would smile and talk me through things as I watched in amazement while she made her famous cinnamon buns now can’t remember how to make breakfast.
What happened? Where did she go? Did she disappear completely or is she still in there somewhere wondering why everything is different now?

From time to time we will see glimpses of her humor or specs of remembrance from her childhood that remind us she is still the same Gamma.
When we ask her what flavor of cake she wants, and she responds with “both” as if we are silly for even asking.
When she looks at a side table in the living room and says, “You know who made this? My daddy made this.”
Those are the moment when we see the woman she used to be. Perhaps still is, but she’s unable to get out.

The mind is a mysterious beast.

Because things have progressed {or regressed, in this case} so quickly, it’s been difficult to wrap my head around it all. It’s hard to really understand how someone who was always on the move, whether it was cooking, walking around the neighborhood, or just cleaning up around the house, now sleeps the majority of the day. It’s impossible to understand how the person who was so excited to hear from me when I called her on her birthday last year, probably wouldn’t know who she was talking to if I talked to her today. It’s not fair that the home I remember LOVING to visit during the summer as a child is now just a house, since 1/2 of the duo that made it so bright and joyful can no longer take care of it, or herself.

It’s hard.
It’s impossible.
It’s not fair.
The mind is a mysterious beast.

I probably sound like a broken record to those of you who have dealt with this, or are currently dealing with it, in your family.  My husband’s grandmother has been slowly ‘losing her mind’ for many, many years now and while a part of me wishes I could have known her when she was the happy-go-lucky grandmother he remembers {there are still glimpses of that person too – she has the best sense of humor}, the other part is thankful I didn’t have to watch the disappearance from the start. She never really knew who I was, so I don’t get the same heartache when she shows me the Christmas present that I made her and asks, “Did you see this? Isn’t this nice?” That doesn’t mean the heartache was never there, or isn’t still in some way, but the circumstances have allowed his family to adapt to things more gradually, so the difficulty can be buffered with laughter and a sense that this is now ‘the norm’.

I’m not there yet.

I don’t know if I will ever be there. It’s actually kind of impossible to imagine a time when I’ll be okay with it all. I’ve gotten to a point where I can avoid tears when my mom calls to update me on the latest thing she’s forgotten, but then again I’m currently writing this with giant puddles in my eyes, making it very difficult to see my spelling errors, so what does that say about my level of “being ok”?

The mind is a mysterious beast for sure, and the idea of not having full control over your own is terrifying. This kind of thing is often passed down through the generations by the women of the family, so will my mother and I suffer the same fate? Will Keelin decades from now? Dear God, I hope not.
Is there a way to prevent it from happening all together, or at least get a few more ‘good’ years in before the disappearing act begins? Do ‘brain teasers’ and memory games really make a difference? Should I eat less chocolate, drink less sweat tea, spend less times staring at a computer screen? Who knows.

All I know is that I’m not okay. Not yet. And I miss my grandmother.

Until next time…

Igniting the Fire

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting the master minds behind my two favorite blogs: Young House Love and Bower Power. Here’s the tail of how it all went down and how a relaxed and friendly 5 minute ‘howdy-do’ ignited the spark I’ve been needing

The Petersik pair have been on the road and in the air on an EPIC book tour promoting their NEW YORK BEST TIMES selling book and Atlanta was their last stop. As soon as I learned they were coming to a flooring shop new me I registered and marked my calendar!
It was the first book signing I’d ever been to and even though I had read about some of their earlier tour stops, I had no idea what to expect. Part of me was imagining it would be in a huge room with mingling moms and bloggers all eager top hop in line and get their books signed and photos taken. The YHL all-stars would be seated behind a table, possibly up on a small stage, ready to answer questions and rub their jaws from excessive smiling.
My dreamed-up image was only partially true. There were plenty of eager moms and bloggers, even some adorable babes {including my very own bean} and a few four-legged friends. There was a book signing table, and two very sincere smiles coming from the stars of the evening. There was a room – a small one – but a room none the less.  There was also a line – a huge one. A line that not only wrapped out of the small room but down the block, looping around into the hall of a parking deck, then back lining the walls of not one, not two, but three rooms of an empty gallery. It was pretty comical watching new line-joiners walk into the cluttered and dimly lit rooms trying to find the end of the train. I’m sure people thought I was looney tunes walking in with a giant diaper bag and a squirmy bundled toddler who was constantly trying to run laps or find the next little piece of food buried in her bag. Thankfully I was not the only one who was looney tunes and Keelin was actually such a trooper.

Let me just add that I don’t use the term “trooper” lightly in this situation because this “long line” I speak of took us 3 hours to get through, part of which was outside in the cold windy February night. Trooper is the understatement of the lifetime.

So, when we finally got into the small room, the WARM small room, I was ecstatic. The end was near, we were so close to meeting my blogger idols, and the time frame for a possible toddler meltdown was getting smaller and smaller with every swipe of  the Petersik’s red sharpie. That’s not the only reason I was ecstatic, but I should back up a little to fully explain. {geez this post is turning into that never-ending line, isn’t it}
When the line finally brought us to a point where we could see into the shop {Flor in Atlanta} I noticed there wasn’t just a simple single-file stretch of people leading up to the signing table. There was another line leading away from them which I was convinced was where you would pay for your book if you hadn’t brought one you’d already purchased. Then I saw a counter in the back where it was clear people were purchasing books so I was all sorts of confused and submitted to the fact that I’d have to wait and see what the 2nd line was for. So, fast forward once more to when the doors opened, the burst of heat welcomed us, and the ‘end is near’ excitement set in. As soon as I got IN the store I made a point to look around to see what people were waiting for. As I scanned the left side of the store I saw a quaint snack table with sweet treats and beverages, I saw a stand labeled “photobooth” where people were snapping away  making goofy faces {totally wish I’d gotten pictures with Keelin and I – mom fail}, AND THEN I saw the reason for the 2nd line. Chatting it up like the local celebrity she is was the lovely Kate Bower. Not only that, but her sweet hubby Jeremy and their adorable new baby boy Weston were flashing smiles as well! Jackpot. Seriously, my two favorite blogs come to life in one room. So worth the wait…

So, after buying my book, getting back into the line, fixing my feeble attempt at a Katniss-esque side braid, getting out the little gift I made for John and Sherry’s daughter Clara {a custom creation from theKeenBean of course – nothing like a little self-promotion where I can get it!}, and keeping Keelin entertained enough to avoid a last-minute tantrum we finally got up to the table. Holy nicest-people-ever Batman. Seriously, such a sweet and genuine couple. They immediately thanked us for coming  and asked Keelin’s name.  Sherry was stoked about the headband for Clara and we bantered a bit about how fast it normally takes our kids to rip them off their heads. Sherry gave a huge grin when she saw the name of my Etsy shop, “theKeenBean, LOVE the name!” and we jabbed about me being an (804) native. They were attentive and honestly interested in who we were, which was so incredibly comforting. Seriously I want to be best friends with these people. Keelin and I swung around the back of the table for a quick photo-op and ended our meeting by John telling me he’d “Say hello to the 804 for you” and me telling them to let me know how long it took Clara to rip the headband off her head! You know, just chatting it up with famous people like we were besties. No biggie.

Young House Love

Then we waited {and snacked on raspberry shortbread cookies} to see Kate. Yes, it was late and Keelin was getting cranky, but I decided we’d waited all this time we may as well. I’m so glad we stayed because Kate is such a sweetheart. She and her hubby both complimented Keelin on being sooo beautiful {true, true} and I oogled over little Weston and even got a smile from him! What a sweet boy! Kate joked that she nursed him in the car the last time he ate but was considering just feeding him there in the store – to which I encouragingly told her “go ahead, just pop it out girl!” I also got all gooey and told her how I loved reading her birth stories and was in the process of becoming a birthing coach and doula – which she was super encouraging about. After another compliment to the bean, an autograph from Kate {she has a featured project in the YHL book} and shared a few laughs when Kate said she really wanted a girl and might steal mine, we were done.

It was 10:00pm, we were finally headed home, and it was totally worth the wait.

Now it might seem silly for me to be drooling over people who, in the GRAND scheme of celebrities aren’t exactly Ryan Gosling status, but being able to meet them and see how incredibly genuine and thankful they are for the support of a nobody like me, is incredibly encouraging. As you know I’ve recently put my own blog and Etsy shop on a bit of a pedestal and have decided to really ‘go for it’ to make them a success. Here in the last week or so I’ve been really down and unmotivated because I continuously see other bloggers {newer bloggers} who have greater fan-bases and a more solid interaction stream. I’ve made the mistake of comparing myself to those people and, as a result, have totally blown out my own flame. Getting to meet my ‘blog heroes’ helped me to remember that being a ‘blogger’ not about make money or being’popular’. It’s about sharing bits of yourself in a way that makes you happy. It’s about finding people with similar personalities to bounce ideas off of. It’s about forming relationships with some random person across the world because you both had pimento cheese cravings while you were pregnant.

I can’t have an ‘end goal’ when I take on the title of ‘professional blogger’. Yes, getting sponsors and having people pay me to jot down my thoughts would be aces, but if that’s all I’m doing this for… will I ever REALLY find success? Will the happiness that comes from sharing my thoughts and knowing some people out there appreciate them totally disappear when it becomes about money and ‘fame’?

Last night’s book signing really re-lit my fire. Not only did I learn what kind of patience {and muscle} it takes to hold a toddler for nearly three hours while wearing heels, but I learned that doing something because I love it is enough of a reward for me. I love blogging. I love sharing stories to keep friends and family updated on our lives and I love that I have gotten some more friends to share with along the way. I’m excited about moving forward thanks to my new flame and eager to see where it takes me. If you’re willing to come along with me on the journey, I will be happy to have you! And on a final note I’d like to give a huge thank you to the Petersik’s and the Bowers for being such wonderfully kind and inspiring people.

Until next time…

My Dolphin Friend

Some of you may not know, but my hubs works at the Georgia Aquarium as a performer in their Dolphin Tales show. No, he doesn’t swim with dolphins. No, he’s not actually a dolphin himself. No, he never actually touches the water – unless you count the splashes the dolphins shoot at him trying to get his attention. YES, he uses his gorgeous voice to narrate the show in melodious majesty! If you are ever up for an aquarium visit, be sure you see the show. It’s great for kids and you’ll probably end up feeling like one yourself!

So about a week ago Keelin and I went with Z to work for two major reasons. 1. So Keelin could see her daddy in the show {which she loved btw.} 2. To participate in a “Dolphin Interaction” .

Let me lay out this “Dolphin Interaction” for you real quick. We {all three of us} got to go behind the scenes of the Dolphin Tales show and INTERACT with one of the dolphins! Touch them, give commands for behaviors, play ball, etc. Now, hubs and I never got a honeymoon {accepting donations} so we don’t have photos of water splashing up our noses as we hang on to the dorsal fin of a swimming dolphin in some beautifully tropical and touristy location. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
But, now thanks to Z’s job and the fantastic trainers at the Georgia Aquarium, we do have these… Everyone, I’d like you to meet Lily!

We had a wonderful time and yes, my face in the photo holding Lily’s lateral fins explains my feeling the whole time. Giddy, giddy, giddy. Keelin was a little skeptical at first and wasn’t a huge fan of being that close to the pool but she was fascinated by Lily! Every time she would get close to us Keelin would say, “Oohhhh” and point. Adorable. Honestly this kid has one charmed life… just over a year old and she’s touched a dolphin. I couldn’t have asked for a better day spending time with my sweet family. We snapped many more pictures around the aquarium but far too many to post in one blog! I’ll try to share some later and will put a few favorites on Facebook {do you like my page… cause you should}!

Have you ever done one of the touristy dolphin interactions while on vacation? Were you giddy like a child?

Until next time…

Guest Blog: Sarah the Supermom

A little less than a year ago I learned that a friend of my brother and sister-in-law’s, lives quite close to us. I had seen photos of them together out in California so I was surprised and excited to see she was on this side of the country, and even in the same state! Through some stalking browsing on Facebook, I learned that she not only had a beautiful little girl, but twins on the way! So, being the creeper that I am I reached out to her, explained the connection, and made it known that I had every intention of continuing to stalk her adorable family, and hoped that we could some day have an official meeting. That was some months ago and now that the twins are here I decided this mama’s baby-wrangling expertise would be perfect for the blog. I asked her to write about what it’s like being a mother of three {under the age of 2} and she was awesome enough to oblige with this wonderful glimpse into her heart.
She’s a God-fearing mama, who credits everything to the love and sacrifice of Christ, with a cool, calm, and collected head on her shoulders, taking things one day at a time. If you are not a religious person, or a mother for that matter, I encourage you to read anyway. I think her sense of serenity for all that life throws at us could be an inspiration to just about anyone.
Plus her name is also Sarah {I don’t discriminate against ‘h-ers’} so she’s double-y awesome. Enjoy!

Elmers

Photo from The Black Sheep Studio

Everyone is asleep!  And by everyone, I mean my 16 month old daughter Vivien, and my 4 month old twins: Elijah and Evelyn.  They are all listening to lullabies and enjoying their mid afternoon naps.

On a perfect day, simultaneous sleeping can happen up to three times.  And it does happen some days.  These are the moments when my mind races through the zillion things that I have dreamt of achieving hoping to settle on one that I may accomplish before someone wakes up.  I am being taught to get in my Bible.  It’s hard though. Sometimes I can only read a verse or two before my mind is swept away into the thoughts of “Is that a baby?  Wait, when was the last time the twins ate?  When was the last time I changed Elijah/Evelyn/Vivien’s diaper?  I should probably run downstairs and unload the dishes and throw in that second load of laundry for today. Speaking of which, have a washed the diapers today? Oh!  I forgot my tea in the microwave! What in THE WORLD is on my shirt?!  Is that dried pesto, or dried poop?!”

Quieting my mind!  What an exercise!

I bet you think that I am going to lament having no time to myself?  That all good wives and mothers must take tons of time for themselves?  Or maybe that I will bemoan the busyness that is my life? No way. In fact, I love stewarding the blessings that The Lord has given us…in a healthy way.

Let me explain “healthy”.  I love my life.  I believe it is because Jesus gave me life about 8 years ago.  As in, set me free from sin and shame.  The way He protected me, stood by me, was so miraculous that I almost have no choice but to worship His Holy Name.  I believe His plan for me involves ownership of me, so I am set free from the bondage of control.  That nasty Mommy idol.  Please learn this.  Before you may attempt any practical incorporation in your life, you must grasp this truth.  If you don’t, you will set yourself up for all sorts of selfish idolatry…

Now, if you think three kids under two is crazy, try this on for size:  I have been married for 2 years and 4 months to the love of my life, Jonathan.  Ours was a whirlwind courtship.  Jonathan and I met and were married in about 4 1/2 months.  Because we were so aware that The Lord had made us for each other, the thoughts of starting a family came easy.  We thought we might perhaps spend some time alone that first year, but The Lord had other plans for us (and that’s another post entirely).  We conceived our daughter the third month we were married.  The twins came four months after her birth.  They are exactly one year and one day apart.  WOW!   And we’ll have as many as The Lord gives us.  Yep.  The Lord is still guiding us and growing us in that area- Hallelujah!

Not only did we have kids quickly, my husband changed careers, we bought our first house (and are fixing it up), and we experienced a few deaths in the family.  It has been a full two plus years, but we believe that things that are known to be the sources of much stress have brought us together in a deeper way that we might have ever been able to achieve had it been different.

In a word: Expectations.
We had to define ours.  Quickly.  And we continue to redefine as we grow.
If I am unhappy in my circumstance, is it because my expectations are wrong?  Probably.  At the very least, they could be the right expectations said to your husband (friend, etc.) poorly.

Are you being incredibly selfish with what God has so freely given you.  I remind myself: I am not my own.  I was bought with a price- Jesus’s blood- and in accepting that, I live for Him.  Am I content in that?  (Hint:  I believe that is a life long discipline…)

Okay, great.  Thanks.  What does that mean practically?

Well, before I begin telling you what it looks like for ME, for US at the Elmer house, please let me encourage you to seek The Lord in prayer for YOUR home.  What does He have for you?

In my world, I find that saying “No” to things is my number one weapon to protecting my sanity and preserving my family integrity.  It gets crazy around here, people.  CRAAAAZY.  I have three under two years of age.  My days ZIP by. Most days I congratulate myself if the twins have had their proper intake of milk (yes, I am nursing twins), Vivien has eaten, been bathed, not stabbed out any of the babies eyes, at least read one book, taken a few naps, and I have kept up my food/water intake.  Woo hoo!  Anything after that is a bonus!  And I love getting through other things by structuring my time well.

The Internet.  That time sucker!  Surfing the internet can really make you feel productive, yet at the same time produce a schizophrenia most unsettling…”Why am I on here, again? Ohhhh, yes.  I wanted to look up which radio station in Atlanta plays Focus on the Family programs.  How did I get to pictures of AJ McCarron’s tattoo?!”  Gosh, with just a few clicks you can immerse yourselves in so many projects for Christ that all have good intentions, but are not FOR YOU.  I could spend a week reading blog after blog after blog from this Christian woman, or that one encouraging me in one way or the other.  Why not pare that down and spend my time with The Lord instead.  Yes?  Do you need encouragement?  Invite a friend over that encourages you and that will pray with you.

How about those friendships? I’ll put it out there:  you can only have a few friendships in your life that are close.  The friend or friends that know your heart, your daily routines, the work that Christ is doing in you and your family.  Please choose these wisely.  You may have many people who you know, and maybe people who you want to get to know better, but a true friendship requires investment.  After your spouse, who should be your very best friend, who are you investing in?  And who are you allowing to invest in you?

What do my children see when they look at their mommy?  Am I buried in my iPhone?  Am I unavailable?  Am I TOO available?  Am I constantly referring to the latest parenting trends, reading blogs and parenting books?  Some foundational help is good as first time parents, but these things need balance.

You must set up a guard in your life, creating balance.  Lean on that still, small voice.  If you can’t see where you need help, ask someone you trust to help you.

And finally, can you hear The Lord calling you?  I don’t know about you, but with three small children, a large home, and the pressures that can come along with it, we have officially divorced a lot of noise around here.  Right now, it is so quiet in my home that I can hear the dryer turning, the rain outside my window falling, and most importantly: my thoughts.

A handful of years ago, I read a book called “Ministry in the Image of God”.  Most of it has left me now, but I will never forget the heart of Jesus he conveyed about the Son of God’s mission here.  He emphasized His obedience to God in His private fellowship.  In this, Jesus knew what God was asking Him to do everyday, all of the time.

Am I living in such a way that I can hear God’s plan for me everyday?  Have I carved out time for Him in order to get my instructions for the day? for the week?  Have I asked Him to lead me?

Last spring I was beginning to feel the pressures that Mommies can place on other Mommies.  It is almost inevitable, whether it is self-created or from an outside source.  My daughter was 11 months and she still wasn’t crawling (even typing that sentence snaps me into reality— what a dumb thing to dwell on!)  I had to start guarding my thoughts.  The worldly answers started pouring in:  “Perhaps she has a developmental delay and needs therapy?  Are you not working with her enough?  Could she have a birth defect?”  And it goes on…I won’t belabor the negatives, but encourage you.  I started desperately asking The Lord to guard those thoughts.  Those negative, intellectually idolatrous thoughts.  And in no time, the Holy Spirit spoke to my thirsty Mom’s heart:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  John 14:27 (I went to look up the reference then and there!)  How thankful I was that I had studied that verse many, many years ago and The Lord brought it to memory!

“…not as THE WORLD gives…” Is the world your source of peace?  I believe it can be, very quickly.  It creeps in ever so slowly.  Fight to have Him be your peace.  He will show you, as He is your Father that loves you, just as He is showing me.

I love to remind myself that The Lord will allow me to deepen my relationship with Him as much as I am willing.  He pursues me.  Am I giving Him everything in my prayers and in my heart everyday?

Someone is crying…yes, I think that all day long everyday.  *Sigh* I’m so glad we could spend this short time together, it’s back to the wonderful and challenging world of mothering now.  How thankful I feel that God has seen it fit to bless me in this.  Have a sweet day in Jesus!!!

A HUGE thank you to Sarah for sharing this little glimpse into her life and heart as she follows her faith through the wonderful adventure of motherhood. If you know someone {even if it’s yourself} who would like to share their parenting endeavors, please let me know! I love reading about other mommy adventures!

Until next time…

FIFTY-TWOsie aka ONE YEARsie

One year ago today, at exactly 9:38 am, a beautifully magnificent, true blessing from God, albeit totally slimy, baby girl was born. She was absolutely perfect and completely filled the hearts of her parents in a way they never thought possible. Here she is today.

52 weeks

What a goof ball. This little stinker is still filling our hearts with more joy, laughter, and fun than we could have ever imagined. On the one hand it feels like she’s been here much more than just a year, and on the other it’s hard to believe it’s gone by so quickly. Last night as we were going to bed my mom {Gammie and Granddaddy are visiting!} looked at Z and said, “Now don’t come waking me up at midnight telling me it’s time to go to the hospital.” Crazy. Totally, insanely, unbelievable crazy, that it was a full 365 days ago that we took the first step on that final stretch to becoming parents.  {Yes, I realize I’ve already linked to Keelin’s birth story twice and we’re only about 180 words into the post. I can’t promise you won’t see another link before you’re finished reading. If you are new to the blog and haven’t read it yet, please feel free. It was an experience I will never forget and means enough to me that I’m proud to share it with you all}.  I’ve learned more in the last year than I ever imagined. From my faith and patience, to understanding more about myself and my dreams, I can honestly say that 2012 {and 4 1/2 days in 2011} has given me more tid bits of knowledge and full-on slaps to the face than the 24 years before it combined. People talk about having calling to certain careers and paths, this is my calling. Mommyhood. I feel completely undeserving, especially when this sweet and innocent little person runs at me with her arms held out and buries her head in my unacceptably bony shoulder, but so incredibly thankful that God chose me to be a mother. Not just a mother, her mother.

Alright enough reminiscing {see… gotcha again!}… this is STILL a weekly onesie post after all. The final weekly onesie post, to be more specific!

This has been a fantastic week filled with fun, family, traditions, and toys! Christmas {all 3-parts of it} was absolutely wonderful and Keelin has had a blast. We woke up Christmas morning and celebrated the holiday with just the three of us. It was quiet, and quaint, and simply wonderful. Keelin wasn’t all that interested in unwrapping her presents until we got to her EleFUN ball popper! As soon as she got a peek of it from behind the wrapping paper she perked right up and went to town trying to free it from the gift wrap shackles. Once Z and I figured out how to put the thing together {seriously Playskool} it was on like Donkey Kong. Alright, it wasn’t THAT exciting, but she did pick up on the fact that pushing the giant red button would result in fun elephant noises, music, and a rainbow of flying plastic balls. Fun city people! After our little family celebration Z had to go to work and sing to two PACKED houses {who knew that many people would be at the aquarium on Christmas day!} but the Bean and I enjoyed the afternoon together picking up, lounging around, and playing with our toys. The hubs got me a HOT PINK forever lazy… so it was quite the comfy day. Once he returned home it was off to Go Go and Grandpa Gizmo’s house for Christmas part deux. More gifts, more food, more family, more fun. Keelin even took a ride on her new rocking horse elephant.  Yes, rocking ELEPHANT. It’s amazing. She spent the majority of the night walking back and forth over the “speed bump” in the floor {where the kitchen turns into the living room} and trying to snatch my glass of Bailey’s. She was one tuckered out little lady.

This morning we both slept in {poor Z had to get up early for a 4-show day at work} and spent the majority of the day prepping for Gammie and Granddaddy’s visit! Clean house, organized {mostly} guest room closet, our LAST onesie pic snapped *tear*, cookies displayed in an overly inviting manner… please resist the urge to come hang at my house. My parents arrived in the early evening and Christmas part 3 commenced. MORE gifts… of which she was completely interested in… more food, a roaring fire, farting boston terriers, lots of laughs, and a ton of love. Doesn’t get much better than this… except I would have liked to exchange the farting boston terriers for my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. Farting or not… they were are missed. Last year really spoiled us.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Keelin’s birthday with some close family and friends {for which I am way behind in preparing for… operation party planning is officially ON} and I’m hoping my heart can handle more of these wonderful blessings. I’ve always loved this time of year but seriously… I’m swelling over here. :)

Happy Birthday beautiful girl. You have blessed our lives in more ways that you will ever know!
We had THE MOST FUN during this last photo shoot, and although most of them turned out blurry, there’s no denying Keelin had as much fun as I did. Here are a few favorites from today… and then a year comparison of newborn, 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 12 month pics. Don’t forget to check out the weekly onesie page to look back at the full year’s worth of weekly pictures. I will miss scanning through all the photos from each shoot but I have to admit it will be nice not having to make sure her fabric and white onesies are prepped and ready each week. Farewell weekly photoshoots.

52_week_fun

 

year_progressionUntil next time…

 

The Santa Struggle

Disclaimer… This post may or may not question the existence of a magical man in a red suit who shows up on Christmas eve and eats all your cookies. If your kids like to read over your shoulder… you may want to kick them out of the room.

There are some things that I just didn’t think about when we found out we were going to be parents. Obviously there was plenty of excitement and uncertainty, thoughts about finances, who he/she was going to look like, and how different our lives are going to be… that’s all to be expected. But the one thing that I didn’t really think about was what kind of a role Santa would play in my kids’ childhood. I know some moms-to-be think about these kinds of things but to be totally honest it never really crossed my mind until recently when I started seeing some of my mommy-friends posting photos on Facebook of their little one’s sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time.

This time last year the hubs and I obviously weren’t thinking about whether or not we were going to make it to see Santa… considering our main thoughts were something closer to “get OUT of my bellay!” But now that we celebrating our first Christmas as a family of 3, we’ve got to ask ourselves if we’re going to ‘play along’ with the mystery of Santa Claus or live the next years of our lives braced for the phone calls and hate emails from parents of classmates who “heard from the Pierce child” that Santa isn’t real. Eeep!

First we looked at how much of a roll Santa played in our own childhoods.

I have an utterly terrible memory {seriously I think sometime between high school and 2012 I must have run into an MIB who totally flashy-thinged me because my childhood recollection is toast} but I do recall being really excited when ‘Santa’ brought me that hot pink Barbie camper with “working” grill and  fold out cabana. It was only later that I learned my mother spend hours putting that piece of crap together while Santa was nowhere to be found. What’s up with that Claus? Anyway. My brother and I did the sit on Santa’s lap thing a few times… definitely not every year. And I don’t even really remember the time when I ‘learned’ that Santa wasn’t real… I don’t know if it was something I learned or just realized. I think my parents had fun with it and let us enjoy the magic of it all but they were always very clear on the real meaning of Christmas, both in the biblical sense and in terms of the holiday NOT being about what presence we got. So if I can’t say that Santa’s ‘existence’ really had that great of an effect on my life, should it be that important that my kids believe in him at all? Ponder, ponder, ponder.

As for Z’s upbringing, his parents were very upfront with he and his brother about Santa not being real. No shenanigans in that family {and coming from two mimes, that says a lot!}. They didn’t want either of them expecting that some fat man in a velour suit was going to get them exactly what they wanted for Christmas and, much like my parents, really strived to make sure they understood the real reason to celebrate – the birth of Christ. They did make sure to tell both of them not to go off and spoil it for the other kids who did believe… which Z ignored on a number of occasions. Yeah, he was THAT KID.

So… what does a Christian {and Catholic to boot} family, who grew up with slightly different Santa experiences, who want to make sure they maintain the true spirit of Christmas for their children, while still having fun DO when it comes to Jolly Old St. Nick?

YOU TELL ME! We’re still figuring out the details. It’s highly unlikely that Keelin will even remember this Christmas so we’ve got some time to finalize our Santa-Plan but here’s what we’ve got so far…

#1 at Christmas for us is, without a doubt, understanding our faith’s reason for celebrating. We are Christians, we believe in the miracle birth of Christ, we use Christmas to celebrate that event. Plain and simple, that is what Christmas is about for us. As long as our kids understand that, you could say that the rest is just extra fun stuff, right?

I think the story of Santa Claus, with the reindeer and the sled and the Ho’s {I mean…}, and the big-fat-jelly-belly, is sweet and totally fine to incorporate into a child’s Christmas experience. I STILL love reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, signing “From Santa” on gifts, and watching all the fun Santa-Christmas movies. It’s festive, spirited, light-hearted, and FUN. We’re definitely going to make sure our kids know the original story of St. Nicholas too – where the common story of Santa Claus is said to have originated. There is far too much Santa out in the world to try to ignore it all together. Plus, how lame would that be?!

I DON’T think the idea of Santa should be used as a way to make kids behave. It’s one thing to joke about getting coal in your stocking if your kids are being particularly pesky {I still do that with friends and family today} but I’ve been witness to a mother GOING OFF on her kid mid-supermarket telling them with all sincerity {and intent to frighten} that Santa is not going to bring them ANYTHING because of their awful behavior. Seriously I think I saw steam coming out of her ears and her eyes were definitely set to LASER mode. I’ll admit her kid was being  a little demon but I want my children to behave properly because they know it’s the right way to act, not because I threaten them with fewer toys at Christmas. Just doesn’t seem right. And if Santa were real I don’t think he would appreciate you making him out to be the bad guy like that. Tisk.

So do we say, “Hey kids… there’s this guy named Santa Claus we’d like you to know about. The story books say he shimmy’s down chimneys on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts to every little girl and boy. He’ also has magical flying reindeer, and perfect no-blush-necessary cheeks. He’s not real, even though some children think he is, so just go along with it when they talk about him at school, and know that it’s all in fun when you come back home. Ok?”  Maybe. It’s upfront, simply put, lets them know we’re all about enjoying the legend for the STORY that it is, but set on knowing the truth from the get-go.

At the end of the day as long as my kids know the real meaning of Christmas, and don’t go around being the jerks that spoil the ‘magic’ for everyone else, I don’t think there’s any reason to ignore the story of Santa. Just be clear on its truth and appreciate it for the fun that it brings to the holiday.

What do you think. Any parents juggling a similar issue? Did I lose you all when I started an 8th paragraph? How did Santa impact your childhood?

Guest Blogger: Lauren the Military Mama

A very dear friend of mine {she was actually a guest blogger here before!} recently announced that she and her husband are expecting baby boy #2! They already have a beautiful son who is a ball of energy just like his mama and I’m positive #2 will be just as sweet and spunky!

I reached out to her to see if she would be willing to do another guest spot talking about what it’s like wrangling one little man AND cookin’ another! She had some problems toward the end of her first pregnancy that resulted in an emergency c-section and some time in the NICU for her sweet boy, Connor. Obviously she is taking extra precautions with pregnancy #2 to ensure a healthy and safe delivery. BUT… enough jib-jab from me, I’ll let her tell you about her experience as an almost mother of 2!

Hill family portrait

I can remember being pregnant with Connor, my first son, and thinking “how do mom’s do it a second time?” Especially on days when I was incredibly exhausted and slept on the couch all day watching movies. I thought, “man, this is hard.” Once the first trimester was over, I regained energy and sort of forgot how exhausting and nauseating the first few months of pregnancy are. (I am sure after I have this next little boy, I will also be quickly reminded how tough the first few months with a newborn are)!
I can tell you that one of the pros (and maybe cons) of being pregnant with the second baby is how fast the time goes by. I almost halfway through this pregnancy, and I have no clue where the time went. Well, I know about weeks 6-13 were spent with me on the couch watching Madagascar 2 on repeat, and my son whining because he just wanted to play. Talk about the guilt that was already setting in. One thing I am having a hard time with is the fact that I have to realize that I am, in fact, pregnant, and I have to be careful and “take it easy.” I can’t just pick up my 30 lb toddler without thinking, “bend your knees so you don’t strain.” I went to pick up Connor the other day, and as soon as I picked him up I wanted to kick myself. I pulled something and cramped all day long, and then I spotted. When I called my doctor, they sent me to the ER because he was in surgery. 4 hours later, and I was sent home with a “your baby is fine and take it easy.” We had the ultrasound which showed him bouncing off the walls (literally). I was so mad at myself, but when your toddler holds their arms up for you to hold them, you don’t think twice about it. I will now.
You know how when you are pregnant with your first, your nursery is already planned out by 20 weeks, your stroller is picked out, and you have already bought clothes? Yeah, well, I haven’t done anything! Probably, in part, because it’s the Christmas season and we now have a kid to buy for. But, mainly, because by the end of the day when I have time to sit down and look up cute nursery ideas and double strollers, I’m just too tired. (Thank God for Pinterest)! The great thing about another boy is that Austin (my baby in the womb) will be born the same season Connor was! How’s that for financial planning?? I’m pumped! Because we all learn after the first baby that there are several outfits that Connor wore one time… or didn’t wear at all.
I can’t say that Connor is excited about his baby brother though. He is only 19 months, and when we ask him if he is excited about getting a brother, he answers with “NO!” But that is his answer to just about everything except, “are you hungry?” or “did you poop?” Of course I am worried about how Connor will feel already, but it’s too late for that, right? I know that in time, Connor is going to be an awesome big brother, and it will be a big adjustment, but most families have more than one child. At some point, most kids gain a sibling, and everyone gets through it.
I haven’t gotten through this pregnancy yet, but my advice to any second time pregnant mom is to just take a deep breath and enjoy it. They say that “the best gift you can give your child is a sibling.” I forgot how miserable the first few months are, and I forgot how hard a newborn can be. The one thing I did not and will not ever forget is the feeling I got when I heard that first cry, saw my son’s beautiful face, and held him for the first time. That isn’t a coincidence you know. I cannot wait to have two beautiful children to stare at and Thank God for on a daily basis.

I can’t wait to see how Lauren and her family adjust to this beautiful new life and I’m incredibly thankful that she would share a few thoughts on being pregnant with a toddler! She has a sweet little blog where she keeps her friends and family updated on her progress so feel free to check her out there!

Until next time…

FOURTY-NINEsie

49 weeks

Hair clip off, holding toes, mouth in mid-raspberry. Perfect picture to capture this tiny person and huge personality!

The Bean has been a non-stop ball of action this week and has been keeping Z and I on our toes. Her walking has turned into a wide-stride RUN and she’s become a pro at somersaults. Not on her own, mind you, she requires an obstacle for her most impressive tricks. One of two preferred obstacles to be specific. The first is one or both of the dogs. She LOVES snuggling with them, it’s too cute for words. But when she isn’t laying on top of them she ‘ll tuck her chin and do a sort of gentle headbutt before going forehead to the ground and sprawling out beneath or right next to them. The pups are so great with her and generally just look up at one of us like “seriously what is this kid doing”. But they let her climb, lay, pull up, and drool all over them. The true definition of puppy love!
Her second, and more hilarious, obstacle of choice is… me. I tend to be a bit fidgety when lounging around in the living room so from time to time I’ll lay on the floor. And now that we’re utilizing the fireplace a little more I’m always on my tummy with my feet by the fire. Keelin apparently sees my floor lounging as an opportunity to practice her acrobatic skills. She will walk up to one side of me, kneel down, put her tummy on my back, and push her self up and over. Her face hits the floor first, of course, but she tucks her head and rolls all the way over me. It’s hysterical. And this isn’t a one and done type of activity. She’ll spend 10 minutes going back and forth over my back. She’ll walk away to scope out something else in the house and come back for another few tumbles. I’m looking into the age minimum for the Olympic trials

Along with her fabulous acrobatic skills, Keelin has become quite the conversationalist. We have no idea what she’s trying to say, but she has very specific inflection with everything she says. Especially while reading or playing in the tub. It cracks me up when her tone gets really excited and ‘matter of fact’ and then she looks at me as if to say, “know what I mean, Mom?” Adorable. It really makes you wonder how much she’s absorbed in the last 11 months and what kind of conversation she’s actually having in her head.

Also, the hubs and I have come to the conclusion that we have created a kleptomaniac. Every time we blink she’s got a hold of the pen we were just writing with, any one of our half dozen remotes, my slippers, the towel that hangs on the stove in the kitchen, either or both of our phones, my work clipboard, Z’s sheet music, or my personal favorite, Z’s wallet. Once she grabs his wallet it’s only a matter of time before the living room is scattered with credit cards. What I’m trying to say is that if you come to visit, you may want to leave any and all personal belongings in the car. She will steal them, and hide them, in a totally different part of the house from where she got them.

In other news, we are getting our CHRISTMAS TREE this week! Hoping to snap some pictures while we ‘shop and chop’ so I can get some Christmas cards made. {Maybe if I tell you all that I’m planning on making Christmas cards this year, the likelihood of it actually happening will go up because you can hold me accountable! Or I’ll let time slip by too fast and not be able to get them out in time for Christmas day so I’ll forget about it all together. Either way, we’re getting a tree.}

Until next time…

FOURTY-SEVENsie + FOURTY-EIGHTsie

Yes, it’s a double dose of onesie goodness since I was without a computer for the majority of the last week and a half. Brace yourselves, most people can only handle the cuteness power of one onesie photo… I’m not sure what kind of effect TWO will have on my readers.

Talk about a sweetie!

Obviously the 47 week photo comes to you from TURKEY DAY! I thought I would change things up a bit and use a hat instead of a bow that week. Ok, I cannot tell a lie, I forgot a bow. BUT, I did want to show off my first hat knitting success! Yes, I have progressed from a knitting career of scarves {straight lines} to hats! My MIL helped me find my rhythm again and taught me a few tricks of the trade which made making this little beauty not only a blast but a breeze {after re-starting it about 4 times… but oh well}. And while I am totally in love with the Rastafarian dreadlock look {pointed out by my sweet hubby}, I have to admit the hat wasn’t originally going to look the way it turned out. As I as finishing things up I noticed there was a big hole in the top of the hat where the edges didn’t meet. So, tapping into my stash of brilliant ideas I decided to turn a gaping hole into a mop-top and voila! Knitting genius. I love it. Keelin loves it {when she’s not trying to pull it off}. And the whole family seemed to love it! Needless to say I  immediately started on another hat which is a few stitches away from being finished.

But enough about knitting… onto the Thanksgiving recap! It was a jam-packed week with far too much to talk about {I’m saving all of my NYC stories for a different post, b.t.dubs} but here are the spark notes. Before hitting the farm I was able to swing by my dear friend Layna’s house and meet her 6 week old baby boy, Ezra. What a cutie. I felt very special that he let me hold him both asleep and awake, without crying. He’s been a bit “attached” to mommy lately so I was half expecting him to start wailing as soon as I got a hold of him but it was like he knew exactly who I was. Layna has dubbed me Aunt Pancake {after Aunt Sara’s Pancake house} and I love the title. He’s the cutest thing and is so lucky to have such great parents. Mama looks stunning, as to be expected, and I was so thankful we got to visit and catch up. It’s been too long but I’m STOKED that we get to see them again in a few weeks! here in GA! WOOT

We had a wonderful time with PERFECT WEATHER up in Va. Z’s side of the family came for turkey day, we ate way too much, played a rousing game of Flickin’ Chicken, and even got an impromptu visit from my parents on their way back from visiting my brother, sister-in-law, and sweet nephew in LA. They got off the RED EYE flight and drove to have a quick visit before heading home. I’m so blessed to have such amazing parents. The whole week was a huge success sans a small incident with the dogs. You may remember way back when I was preggs that Z’s cousin Sarah came to visit with her mammoth dog Remus. You also may remember that despite being 4X smaller than their cousin, the Bostons attacked poor Remus and were quarantined to the cage for the entirety of Sarah’s visit. Well, we assumed the attack happened as a result of the Bostons being territorial, since Remus was on ‘their turf”. Turns out my dogs are just big jerks because as soon as Remus hopped out of the car at the farm, the chaos began. Pigs {aka “The Train”} went into attack mode and his idiot brother Buster followed suit. After a rousing game of ring-around-the-Prius and a pitiful yelp from the giant Wolfhound, we were left with a bloody ear, a bite on the belly, and ONCE AGAIN two quarantined Bostons. Seriously hate those dogs sometimes. The remainder of their visit I was secretly hoping they would wonder into the woods and ‘get lost’. Yes, I was pissed. Yes, I had to resist the urge to punt them across the farm. Please don’t call PETA. So, despite the blood lust of my dogs, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving. So much to be thankful for and a wonderful reminder of all we are blessed with.

And now to 48 weeks!

 

She said WHAAAAAT?

I can’t get enough of this little girl! Yesterday we celebrated Keelin turning 11 months old which was totally nuts because it made me realize that in another month we will have a 1-year old. How did that happen? No, seriously. It feels like we just got home from the hospital, so where did the year go?

I filled you in during the 46 week update that crawling has become a thing of the past in our house and that is even more so these days, except now the SPEED as set in. Z and I were cracking up last night as Keelin came tearing around the side of the couch with her wide-stepping strut and arms up in the air. It’s adorable. She’s like a tiny chimpanzee. I love it. I’m not sure how I will every REALLY punish this adorable, adorable child but I’m sure I’ll be eating my words one day when she knocks my favorite vase off the table, dumps an entire plate of food onto the floor, or decorates our living room walls with permanent markers. But for now… I’m fine with her being ridiculously adorable.

Speaking of adorable, I never knew pouting could be so cute. A few days ago Z picked Keelin up to get her away from something she wasn’t supposed to be messing with {because “no” is still funny} and the second he sat her down in a “safe zone” she looked right at him, stuck out her bottom lip, gave a solid lip quiver, a tiny fuss, and batted some very convincing puppy dog eyes. It was like something out of a cartoon. Well done daughter of mine, well done. It didn’t work, in fact it made us laugh, but valiant attempt!

Let’s see… what are some other updates. Oh, everything is ‘dada’. Z is ‘dada’, as he should be, but I’m also ‘dada’, the dogs are dada {although I think she’s actually trying to say ‘doggie’ for them} her reflection is ‘dada’, her food is ‘dada’, and the humidifier in her nursery is ‘dada’. EVERYTHING is ‘dada’. Z says she says ‘dada’ for all the things she loves, which is a very sneaky way of gloating if you ask me. She will call me ‘mama’ when she really thinks about it, or is prompted, and it’s still that motor-type mmmmmmma ma ma ma ma, but for the most part, the whole world is ‘dada’. I don’t mind because, again, it’s cute.

We are still finding discarded socks all over the house, loving bath time {sans a random FREAK OUT last week when she suddenly became deathly afraid of the water… what’s up with that}, staying on our toes, and wondering how in the world any parent can TRULY baby-proof their home. Seriously I feel like whenever I move something out of her reach I look over my shoulder and she’s found something else that makes my heart jump. My inner monologue is continuously saying “keep the kid alive, keep the kid a live, whatever you do just keep the kid alive”.

Alright… if I write any more I’m going to start losing some of you, if I haven’t already. Darn my rambling brain.

MANY updates on the way including my NYC trip, current work struggles, Christmas plans, DIY fun and more! It’s a busy time of year… bring it on!

OH and CONGRATS to Melanie from Career Desires to Bottles and Diapers for winning the Appliqué Christmas Towels from Thread Creations. More giveaways to come!

Until next time…