10 lessons Dad has taught me (so far)

There is something very special about a girl and her Dad. My Mom is my role model and best friend but Dad? He’s my hero and always has been my constant. My rock. It’s fun to think back on how our relationship has grown and evolved, from Dad battling his fear of flying to take me on my first mission trip to Panama in high school to him saying the prayer before Annie safely arrived in the delivery room.

One of my first and funniest memories of us was when Mom sent us both out for the evening while she hosted a shower of some sort at the house. I was five years old and Beauty and the Beast was playing in theaters so OF COURSE, Dad decided we would go, much to my excitement. He let me get all the candy I wanted (!!!) and allowed me to choose where we would sit (FRONT ROW!). All was right with the world until the movie was over and suddenly all the candy and up-close-and-personal-to-the-animation made me feel not so good. I had to go to the bathroom fast. Dad slightly panicked but he had no choice other than to take me to the men’s restroom and stand outside the door. I distinctly remember screaming from the bathroom to Dad, just outside, “I want my Mommy!” and he replied “I do too!” Lesson learned at an early age – less is more with candy and never, ever sit on the front row at the movie theater.

But for real, through his words and example Dad has taught me countless life lessons in my 30 years and I feel like every time we’re together I learn something new. Here are ten lessons Dad has taught me, so far:

  1. If you put God first, He’ll take care of the rest
  2. You are the company you keep
  3. You can’t go wrong with The Eagles or The Beatles
  4. With hard work and determination anything is possible
  5. The truth will find you out
  6. Mom knows what she’s talking about
  7. The two most important decisions you make in your life: to become a Christian and who you will marry
  8. Always be kind and love people
  9. Beware of: a waitress who seats you in the corner and a house built in a hole
  10. You can always come back home

What life lessons has your Dad taught you? I want to hear! If you’re fortunate enough to still have your dad with you on this earth give him a call. Thank him and tell him how much you love him because a good father is such a gift.

Motherhood Update: Annie at 9 months

The other day we were driving home from Franklin and Annie decided she had had enough of her carseat. She started to fuss and threatened actual tears real fast if something wasn’t done. Taylor started singing “Old Mac Donald had a farm” and she instantly stopped crying and watched us oh so seriously from her little mirror. After we got done with all your basic farm animals (cow, chicken, dog) we stopped singing because what animals were left? Then we heard an “ugh” from Annie as if to say, again. More. Encore. Next thing I knew Taylor was singing Old Mac Donald had a giraffe, e-i-e-i-o! I would sing the song and he would make the most hilarious, and terribly accurate, animal sounds to match each one, including a fish, llama, frog and butterfly. Taylor was beaming and Annie was giggling and on that ordinary afternoon drive home I was reminded what a special season we’re in as a family.

Motherhood Update: Annie at 9 months

Eating: Milk is still her #1 but she is super interested in anything we’re eating and wants to try everything – unless it’s peas. Her favorites include avocado, black beans, any and all pureed fruit and strawberry yogurt, which leaves her smelling like Fruity Pebbles.

Sleeping: She’s been a champion sleeper, typically out from 7:30am-7:00pm, but teething has got her sometimes waking up for a snack around 3:00am. I may be half asleep but I have tried to find the joy in the extra time spent with my girl when the rest of the world is sleeping.

Doing: Annie spends most of her waking hours smiling at whoever she’s with and looking through her books – she loves to pat each page. She also has started waving at anyone and everyone, which is especially hilarious when we’re out and she waves at every car and person we pass. Our pediatrician joked that she could be a Wal-Mart greeter for the baby aisle. Oh, and she loves to give wet, slobberific kisses and press her cheek against your’s to show love.

Saying: Hiiiii, Dada, and a whole bunch of gibberish that does not include Mama yet.

Favorite songs: Jesus Loves Me, Old MacDonald and Good Day Sunshine (The Beatles).

Latest biggest milestone: She has been army crawling for a couple of weeks now. She started at a snail’s pace but now she is able to get wherever she wants to go in record time.

Sweetest thing she does: When she’s sleepy or needs to calm herself down from a fussy spell she rubs her neck with her chubby, little hands.

Hardest part of this age: The more food she eats, the smellier the poops.

Favorite part of this age: I love our morning routine and how thrilled she is to see us in the morning. She talks to herself until I go in to get her. She’s usually on all fours, looking at the door, waiting for us to come pick her up to start the day. Once she sees us, she grins the biggest grin and squeals with joy. After a quick diaper change we head to the kitchen where she helps me make the coffee and then she gets squeals as I feed her strawberry yogurt.

Annie at 9 months, is, in one word: JOYFUL

then I loved my mother more

I have always loved my mother. Of course we had our moments where we fought like sisters and Dad would have to tell us to each go to our rooms – hello, high school – but I have always loved my mom. Respected her. Thanked God for her because I knew she was something special. I grew up, got married, and she became my best friend.

Then I got pregnant.

Then I was in labor for hours and hours and pushed for what felt like eternity.

Then I brought our baby girl home and struggled through the ups and downs of those first few weeks with a tiny human to care for around the clock.

Then I loved my mother more.

I related to her in a new way – through the lens of a tired, joyful, overwhelmed young mama who for the first time appreciated the woman who years ago had prayed for God to allow her to keep this baby after so much loss. My mother – who was told by doctors her baby would be born with too may birth defects and should be aborted. Who, along with her husband, prayed feverishly in secret for the remainder of her pregnancy for a healthy baby girl with all of her fingers and toes. A woman who was in labor for hours and hours and cried happy tears when her baby was laid on her chest, perfectly healthy.

When I was in labor, my sweet husband stood beside me and my mom often came to my other side to check on me. To cheer me on. Once our baby girl arrived and family was allowed in the room she came right to my side, checking on me first before delicately holding our baby tightly in her arms. Beaming from ear to ear. Of all the major life moments we had shared, this was the most profound. She had birthed me, and now helped me to give birth to my own baby girl. Different years, different hospital rooms, same love.

After we came home from the hospital, Mom stayed with us for a week, easily one of the most special times in my life. I cried the afternoon she drove away, thinking of her in a new light. How she was once a brand new mom with a brand new baby that she had prayed for and fought for. How she once woke up with me on the hour every hour to nurse me back to sleep and then watched me to make sure I was still breathing. How she leaned on her husband, my dad, for support and encouragement when the mom thing was new and scary and exciting. I thought of my mom, now a Nana, and for the first time I started to understand the gravity and intricate joy, and pain, of motherhood.

How could I love her more?, I thought. But somehow, I did.

I’ll love you forever, Mom.

A Letter to My Baby Girl on Our First Mother’s Day

Dear Baby Girl,

This is our first Mother’s Day. You see, last year it was about me: my pregnancy, my cravings, my “I need a nap, please.” But this year, I’ve realized that Mother’s Day is not about me at all. Instead, it’s a day to celebrate you and me. A day to celebrate us because, my darling, you made me a mom and I am forever changed.

For nine months and six days it was you and me. Sure, you showed off with your kicks and jabs but I was the only one who carried you. Who felt your heartbeat and hiccups. Who read to you every night and fed you the good stuff (chocolate and Chick Fil A, of course). When the day came for you to meet the rest of the world I was mostly excited but there was a tinge of sadness. It wouldn’t be just the two of us any longer.

From the moment you were born you have been loved by everyone that meets you, from your grandparents to extended family to strangers in the grocery store. Your father and I soak in every moment, yucky blow-outs and teething included. Some nights you sleep like a champ and some you wake up a couple times desperately needing a night cap and you know what? I cherish those half-awake moments of nursing you in bed and then ever-so-carefully placing you back in your crib that no longer looks so massive. The way you smile as you fall back asleep melts me and I thank God for giving us these special moments.

I know soon you’ll no longer wake up for a night cap. You won’t need me to carry you because you’ll be walking, then running, and telling me you can do it yourself. One day you’ll refuse the bows and want to pick out your own outfit to go hang out with your friends that know way more than me. But for today your Dad and I are the center of your universe. The coolest people you know and so I will hold you close until you wiggle away.

You are my constant, lovely, joyful reminder that we serve a God who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. A God who changed an ordinary, sometimes selfish girl into a mother. You are so much more than I ever could have hoped for, and more wonderful than I ever dreamed.

So this Mother’s Day, our first, I’m not dropping hints to your Dad for elaborate flowers or a spa day. Instead, I plan on being with you. Holding you close and singing Old MacDonald to make you giggle and taking one million pictures of you in my arms because it’s our day, after all.

I love you,

Mom

P.S. Please say Mama before Dada.

sometimes you can’t have both

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I’m not sure when I became a neat freak. I remember the days when Mom had to practically bribe me to pick up the clothes strewn across my room but oh man sometime between middle school and marriage I changed. I like the house to be clean. Tidy. No mess in the kitchen and no clothes on the floor. My husband called me Monica Geller the other day because I told him I couldn’t rest until I at least took care of the dirty dishes in the sink. Yep, being an adult is weird sometimes.

Beds made and floors cleaned – I’m a happy girl.

No one told me I couldn’t have that and a child too, but it wasn’t long before I realized I would stress myself into a heart attack if I continued in my neat freak ways. Annie is only five months old but she is a messy little princess. She drools, knocks things over, poops on EVERYTHING and grabs everything in her reach – and she’s not even crawling yet. Her latest obsession is laughing at herself in the mirror and then kissing herself, and whoever is holding her, by kissing the mirror. I cannot express to you how much joy she gets out of doing this and how magical it is to be apart of.

The other day Annie was playing in the living room with Taylor so I was busy trying to fold the massive mound of laundry on the twin bed in her nursery. I was furiously folding tiny onesies and towels, noting the next item I would tackle on my tidy to-do list before she needed to eat again when I noticed the mirror. It’s an antique mirror that hangs above the rocker and her favorite to laugh at and kiss while I’m holding her. We start most every day singing songs and giving kisses in the mirror and I noticed every square inch was smudged. Smudged with the remnants of sweet, drooly baby kisses.

That’s when I realized that maybe I can’t have both right now. I can either spend time doing laundry and making sure all the mirrors are sparkling or I dance around the kitchen like a lunatic to make my baby girl belly laugh. I can either embrace the mess or miss this sweet season that goes by too fast.

I choose drooly kisses and smudgy mirrors.

Everything else can wait.

xo

 

Happily Married: Back to the Beginning

It was about this time three years ago when I was strung out on my parents’ couch, un-showered and on some powerful pain killers, that I met my now husband.

Yep.

I’ll explain.

I went home to have all four of my wisdom teeth removed early on a Friday morning. My train of thought was to get the awful surgery part over and done and then sleep it off on the couch. My sweet parents escorted me there and back, making sure I actually made it to the car (pain pills get me, y’all) and then safely into my favorite corner of their couch. Truthfully I don’t remember a whole lot other than waking up in the car on the drive home and trying desperately to tell my mom a story about my dentist (???) but physically couldn’t even come close thanks to all the gauze and who knows what else in my mouth.

So glamourous.

Saturday morning I woke up on the couch, still in my yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt I had wore into surgery the morning prior. I must have been with it enough to take my hair down and bra-off but not coherent enough to bother doing anything else like shower or sit up.

I told you, glamourous.

I was alone in the den with HGTV playing in the background and then a guy I didn’t know walked in. Correction: a cute guy I didn’t know.

GREAT.

While a lot of the details of this day are foggy this particular one is not. Seeing this cute guy walking towards me I was suddenly very aware of how special I had to have looked so in what felt like slow motion, I attempted to pull my hair back in some sort of ponytail and “fix” my bangs. I’m going to guess that didn’t improve my looks. Next thing I knew he had a bowl of cereal and was sitting on the other end of the couch.

“Hi,” he said.

Indistinct mumbling from me.

Taylor was his name and he was a friend of my brother. I had heard of him before – my family knew him for years but we’d never met – so I connected the dots and tried to smile. He wasn’t anything like I thought he would be – he was better – and I couldn’t believe this was how we were meeting. Nathan was taking him to the airport later but wasn’t up yet so he decided to come talk to me.

“Do you like House Hunters? I love it,” I managed to mumble out, apparently. Because that’s what you talk about when you’re on pain killers and meet a cute guy in your living room.

Awesome.

He finished his cereal while I attempted to look alive – I nodded off twice – and then he said he would see me later. I just knew he would never ever EVER want to see me again after our winning first encounter and didn’t give him more thought.

A couple weeks later we ran into each other and in front of several people I did not know I awkwardly announced: “Look! This time I’m wearing clothes and not strung out on drugs!”

I can’t make this stuff up.

As if all that wasn’t enough to make him run for the hills, my dad decided to jump in the mix. Dad, who up until that point had never meddled in my love life saw something there and for whatever reason, called Taylor. He told Taylor it was about me and his initial thought? Something was wrong. I was sick/dying/moving overseas. NOPE. Dad told him he should call and ask me out and – WAIT FOR IT – if things worked out he “couldn’t pick a more perfect son-in-law or match for his daughter.”

If your jaw is on the floor you had a similar reaction to the one I had when Taylor told me on our third date.

Taylor did call and we talked non-stop for the next two days, including a 6-hour delay from BNA>LGA for a work trip so I knew I had to see him. We went on our first date the day I got home from NYC. He prayed at dinner and we talked like old friends well past midnight as we strolled in one of my favorite parks. We both agreed it was the best first date we’d ever been on and I knew it was only the beginning of our story.

He later told me he liked me from our first meeting on my parent’s couch, jumbo-sized gauze cheeks and all. Love is spectacular like that. xo

how to be a better friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on

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Whether they’re the mac to your cheese, the Sookie to your Lorelai or the Anne Perkins to your Leslie Knope, true friends are the ones that stick by you in good times and in bad. They love you for everything you are and can be and despite the crazy person you’ve been sometimes in the past and let’s be real, will probably be again at some point in the future. They’re family and they love you no matter what.

I think we all know friendship is a two-way street but sometimes it’s tough to really invest and nurture friendships because well, life. We’re all busy and as my mother would say, we’re burning the candle at both ends. We’re building families and careers and sometimes taking time to connect with our girlfriends seems selfish or self-indulgent but I am here to announce WE NEED FRIENDS. They are vital to our well-being and overall sanity. So if you’ve been out of the loop with friends recently (work overload, got married, had a baby, THE HOLIDAYS) never fear! It’s completely doable to be get back in the game. Here are ways to be a good friend, even when you’ve got a lot going on.

Make plans
This may seem like a “duh” but for let’s be real, between careers and babies, life happens. None of us are immune to the busy day-to-day but something has to give if we want to find true connection with friends. Whether it’s a standing dinner date once a month or a quick coffee date here and there — create dates in your schedule for get-togethers based on everyone’s schedule and stick to them. When you are together be all there – silence that cell and enjoy face time with your people.

Use your phone
If you see something that reminds you of a friend, let them know. Shoot them a text to share a funny story or ask for prayers for something you’re struggling with. Make it a point to call them every once in a while during your commute from work to hear about what’s going on in their world. Use your phone to keep your friendship alive and thriving until the next time you get to be together.

Say thank you
How often do you take the time to tell your bestie how thankful you are for them? Tell your friend exactly how you feel and how much they mean to you – this will make their day and yours, too. Send them a fun card via snail mail to let them know you think they’re pretty awesome and value their friendship. I don’t know about you but some of my most cherished keepsakes are cards from dear friends.

Listen up
Being a great friend reaches far beyond verbal communication — it’s rooted deep in listening. Sometimes all we really need is to talk something through and get it all out there to a close friend just to do simply that, get it out there. We all love to talk (I’m raising my hand high here!) but sometimes the greatest service we can offer a friend is the gift of silence and quiet understanding.

Encourage
Oh man this is so important and something we all need, especially during all the changes life brings in different seasons. Maybe it’s giving a genuine compliment out of the blue or maybe it’s checking in and offering support when they’re training for a half marathon. Don’t make this hard! Some encouraging things to say: I understand. Me too. I’m so proud of you! How can I help? This too shall pass. Let me know how it goes – I’ll be praying. Well done! I’ll bring the chocolate!