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.

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

 

Monthly Motherhood Update: Annie at 4 months

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Similar to my monthly pregnancy series, I’ve decided to start documenting what’s new with Annie Lou on an every-other-month-or-so basis. She’s changing so rapidly and I want to remember these little details forever.

Motherhood Update: Annie at 4 months

Eating: Milk, milk and more milk. Some days she eats so much I honestly have no idea where she puts it. Luckily she takes a bottle from everyone but me so BONUS I can leave the house without her and we all survive.

Sleeping: She’s always been a good sleeper so we’ve been pretty spoiled. She no longer wakes up for middle-of-the-night feedings/diaper changes – PRAISE – so typically she sleeps from 9pm-5am. She wakes up hangry so I feed her and then she passes back out for another couple hours. #dreambaby

Doing: Rocking tummy time. Rolling over both ways when she wants to but never when I try to take a video of her for the grandparents. Laughing more and more. Smiling and talking non-stop. She gets super excited during bath time and even more excited when music is playing.

Saying: Of course everything is in mumbly-baby talk but she is quite the conversationalist, especially during quiet times at church or while on her playmat at home. She has about mastered saying “goo” thanks to us all telling her she’s a “good girl” from birth and we’ve started hearing “ma” and “da” in the midst of her ramblings. The sweetest is that lately she likes to talk herself to sleep so of course I’m a puddle.

Sweetest thing she does: She likes to put her tiny baby hands on either side of your face when you’re talking to her. She really looks at you and smiles that big toothless smile and you can’t help but melt.

Favorite part of this age: It’s incredible to watch her discover everything for the first time. Like when she noticed her feet for the first time. Or that there’s a cute baby looking at her in the mirror. Or that snow is cold and Buddy is soft. Everything is brand new and there are a million firsts each month.

Annie at 4 months, is, in one word: Happy.

Married Life: A letter to my husband after we’ve had a baby

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To my husband after we’ve had a baby,

It was impossible for us to know what any of this would be like, this new season. We went into labor and delivery rookies, relying on our childbirth classes and Google for our limited knowledge. You calmed my nerves and held my hand through every contraction. You prayed us through the scary parts and ugly cried as we met our baby girl for the first time. You told me how proud you were of me and my “superhuman strength” and you helped me with well, everything in the tough days after when I felt like my strength had left me.

So here we are now, with a 5-week-old who has a smile just like your’s and you still tell me how proud you are of me. Of us. Of our little family. Day in and day out, you tell me how beautiful I am even when my hair is 97% dry shampoo. You turn your head when I eat five of the lactation cookies we both know I made just so I can have cookies. You never protest when I tell you I need Starbucks and to walk around Target for a couple hours. Never speak a word of my mood swings. Never flip out when I say I’m crying for no reason or because “she’s growing too fast.” You listen to me. You help make the major changes not seem so major. You take me on dates because you know we need time to focus on us. You love me just the same. No, scratch that, you love me more. You carefully push me to be the best version of myself. This new version of myself.

Some days are hard and some nights we don’t get much sleep between the diaper changes and feedings. Some days I don’t get a shower and walk around for hours with dried milk and spit up all over me. You never hesitate to jump in and finish dinner when she decides its time to eat – again – and you never complain when I pass her to you with a dirty diaper the second you walk in the door so I can pee. You change basically all the diapers and have learned to make the best half-caff coffee. You wake up extra early to clean the kitchen while I feed/pump/feed because you “don’t want me to have to worry with it.”

And so I thank you.

For telling me I’m a good mom. For loving me. No matter what I look like or how I feel. Thank you for always thinking I am the prettiest. The best. The sexiest. Even when I don’t feel like it. I am going to work hard on loving myself the way that you love me because the way you love me is the greatest way of all. I love being your wife and I love doing the parent thing with you. I thank God every day for this sacred season and I know the best is yet to come.

I love you more. xo

Annie’s Nursery & Impromptu Maternity Shoot Faves

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Decorating a nursery can be tough – especially since you’re designing it for a little person you’ve never met yet! These days there are so many color and design options that go far beyond the traditional pink or blue so yes, it can be a little daunting, albeit so much fun. From the minute we learned we were having a little girl, I dreamed of a light and airy space filled with pastel hues and vintage nursery rhymes. I am so thankful for my oh so talented parents who took all our ideas and helped us create this fairytale of a space for Annie. Once the nursery was all set I talked Taylor (okay, and Buddy) into taking some fun pictures around the house to document life before Annie arrives – I thought I would share some of our favorites. Major thanks to Mom who used her new Nikon like a champ and acted as our photographer for the morning. Happy Monday, lovelies! xo

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Light & Fruity Chicken Salad


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It is definitely summer in the South, meaning you walk outside and feel like you’re in a sauna that just won’t quit. Don’t even get me started on being eight months pregnant in this humid, sticky heat! Any who, the last place any of us want to be is stuck inside a hot kitchen so I am a major fan of whipping up a batch of this chicken salad! It takes less than ten minutes to make and goes straight into the fridge. My mom gets full credit for this light and fruity recipe that’s perfect for a special occasion or lunch on the go. I make this year around but it’s especially popular in our house during these hot months. It’s SUPER easy and I promise you’ll fall in love.

You’ll need:

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked (I use Ina’s fool-proof method or buy a rotisserie chicken)

1 can pineapple chunks (or fresh if you have it)

Seedless red grapes

Green onion

Pecans (chopped or halved, per your preference)

Hellmann’s

Sea Salt & Pepper

Super simple instructions:

Chop up your chicken into small pieces. Cut pineapple chunks and grapes into halves. Chop up a fair amount of green onion – it adds that little punch this salad needs – and mix everything together in a large bowl. Add as any pecans as you like – I like a lot – and stir again.

Now comes the Hellman’s. Put *maybe* a spoonful in and stir. Add a little more if you need to but only enough to just bind together. A little goes a long way! Add a pinch of sea salt and pepper and stir one more time.

Cover the bowl and put into the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.

Serve on a bed of spinach, your favorite toasted bread, crackers or right out of the bowl by the spoonful! xo

Monthly Pregnancy Update: 32 Weeks

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It’s crazy to say “I’m having a baby next month” but Lord willing, Annie will make her arrival next month! We’ve been so busy with work and working on the house that when we do have downtime we take full advantage of spending time just being together. People keep telling us to enjoy the calm before the crazy fun so we’re soaking in lazy nights with long dinners and Netflix, spending time with good friends, late night movies and sleeping in a little on Saturdays. My OB told us at our last appointment that Annie’s heartbeat sounds “super happy” and everything is going just as it should be. Also, super excited for my dear friend Beth who welcomed her sweet baby boy to the world yesterday, making it all the more real that I’m next in line! God is so good! xo

Baby’s size: A head of lettuce (who comes up with these anyways?)

I’m feeling: More pregnant but still pretty energetic for the most part. There are times when I feel like I could fall asleep standing up but usually after a snack or a 15 minute disco nap I’m good to go again. The heat and humidity is not my friend but I am so thankful for swimming pools and AC. I can’t even begin to imagine how pregnant women did anything before AC was invented!

Foods I could eat forever: Anything with cheese, any and all fruit, and Sonic ice. Yes, it counts.

Foods I cannot imagine eating: Hot dogs.

Currently wearing: Workout shorts, sundresses and sometimes my boyfriend-fit maternity jeans.

Pros of July: Childbirth classes with my sweet husband who’s going to be so great at the whole dad thing.

Cons of July: My wedding band no longer fits. Also, THIS HUMIDITY.

Looking forward to: Our baby showers!

Favorite scripture at the moment: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” [ John 14:27 ]