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It’s been 2 months since we moved into our new house. Two months of unpacking and slowly settling in; learning all the creaks and noises that come with living in an old house. When we moved to Asheville 4 months ago, I never imagined how stressful it would be to find a home for our family. Before we moved from Florida I would lie in bed at night and imagine what our house in North Carolina would look like. I imagined beautiful old, creaky hardwood floors and charming character throughout the house. After living in an eternal summer for the past 4 years, I imagined a roaring fire in a wood burning fire place and pumpkins sitting on our front porch. Basically, I imagined a house that was filled with the warmth and love of a home. And then, when we moved here and experienced first hand how tight the housing market was, my “dream house” slowly slipped away and I realized that I would happily settle for A house! Just any house that I could make a home for my family. But then, just when I had given up hope and had whined to Brett that “it looks like we will be living with my parents forever!” we found a house. And not just any house, but rather my dream house! A house with beautiful, sloping hardwood floors and glass doorhandles. A house with a large front porch; perfect for fall pumpkins, and a master bath with a big, claw foot tub. When we walked into the house for the first time I knew that we had found our home. The home where we will witness Claire walking for the first time, the front porch where I will take Leah’s first day of school pictures, the home where our family belongs.

When we were up visiting Brett’s family in New York a few weeks ago we had a lot of relatives ask to see pictures of the house, so here are a few!

^^Side note, this is the very first house that we moved into that Leah’s room was NOT set up as a nursery, rather it went right into being a big girl’s room. Even though we were slowly in the process of transitioning her nursery in Florida into a big girl room, most of the decor was from when she was born. When we moved in, Brett and I went out and bought her new dresser and bed frame and I am slowly trying to find some big girl wall hangings and decor for her room!

I’ll tell you what…God is good. Right after we fond our house Brett and I were browsing at an antique shop and I found a wall hanging that said “Thank you God for blessing me far more than I deserve.” Without a second thought, I picked it up and told Brett “We’re buying this” and it now hangs right by our front door as a daily reminder. We both feel so blessed to be living in a beautiful home, in a beautiful neighborhood, and in a beautiful city. We both felt, from the beginning, that God led us to Asheville and I continue to see evidence of that on a daily basis! Yes, moving has had it’s ups and downs and daily struggles, but overall we are LOVING Asheville and I am so incredibly thankful that we took this leap of faith and made the move!

The fabulous wedding week

A little over a week ago, my family descended upon Asheville for a week long reunion slash wedding celebration for my sister Caitlin. Having my entire family in one place is a pretty exciting feat, considering the fact that my sister Sarah, who is in the Air Force and stationed in Alaska, doesn’t get the opportunity to come home very often (as a matter of fact, I had not seen her in almost 2 years and had yet to meet her adorable 11 month old girl!!) So you could say that everybody was just a BIT excited to have a whole week together! It’s my (not well kept) secret plan to make all my siblings move to Asheville so we can all be next door neighbors and our girls (and maybe some future boys??) can grow up being the best of friends. So…the plan is in effect and I expect my sisters to all start moving here any day now. 😉

We managed to fit a LOT into our week long reunion (and, as many pictures as I am about to post, this is really only captures like 1/3 of what we managed to do together) on top of all the wedding craziness leading up to Caitlin and Ian’s Sunday wedding. So, with that warning, prepare for photo overload….

We started the week hosting an (overdue) wedding luncheon for my sister Sarah and her new husband Gary. As they got married in Alaska, our family was sadly unable to attend, so we hosted them a little shower/celebration at our new house.

^^With all the little cousins running around, this is pretty much how our playroom looked all week…

^^Sarah asked to celebrate with her favorite dessert; ice cream cake.

Leah also got to spend a lot of time just hanging out with her favorite best friend, cousin Millie! It was so cute because this was our first visit where Leah and Millie actually played together instead of parallel playing alongside each other. It was so fun watching them play “princess” where Millie would watch Leah dance around with her magic wand, and then copying her song and movements. Leah, obviously, will be oh so thrilled when Millie convinces her mom and dad to move next door to us. 😉

^^Having breakfast at our all time favorite breakfast place here in Asheville, Sunnypoint

Sunday morning (wedding day!!) started with a trip to the hair salon to get our up dos!! I was seriously impressed with our 2 hair stylists and everyone’s hair turned out amazing. Caitlin was the calmest bride and was as cool as a cucumber the whole day!! I had a great opportunity to drive her to the wedding venue, just the two of us, so we got to have one last sister chat as I blessed her with all my marriage wisdom. Joking aside, it was nice to have that last sister moment before she became a married woman!!

The wedding was held at a GORGEOUS venue on Crest Mountain. The views during the ceremony (which was held on the back deck overlooking the mountains) were breathtaking. It was so beautiful, I didn’t even complain about the shocking amount I was sweating during the ceremony under that long bridesmaid dress…

We ended the night dancing and partying away, celebrating Caitlin and Ian!! My little flower girl did an AMAZING job during the ceremony (although no actual flower petals were thrown during her serious march down the aisle) and she had a blast dancing it up all night. At one point I even asked her if she wanted some cake and she answered “Mommy, I’m too busy dancing!!” She’s quite the little dancing queen!!

Like we knew it would, the week totally flew by, but man oh man did we have fun while it lasted!! Can’t wait until our next family get-together!

Leah at 2.5 years

Some of my favorite Leah-isms:

“Psst! Psst! I have a secret to tell you!”
“Want to go play with all my guys!?” (her baby dolls)
“You are being mad to me!” (whenever she is being scolded for something)
“Let me ugga ugga your nose” (Coming from Daniel Tiger, her favorite show)
“I don’t love coffee” (what she tells me EVERY morning as I make myself a large mug)
“You want to talk? Let’s talk about doggies” (At the dinner table every night)
“I think I’m gonna be a little bit sad..” (walks around with her head down, frowning) 2 minutes later….”Okay, I’m happy now!”
“Because why?” (Questioning EVERYTHING we say….)

Other important 2.5 year old mannerisms I want to remember:
~The way she dances “ballet” with over exaggerated arm movements.
~Her complete love and obsession with all things Frozen.
~Her sweetness towards Claire and the way she tells her “Hold on Claire, 2 more minutes!” whenever Claire starts fussing in the car.
~Her insane ability to memorize books which enables her to “read” for hours. (Boy, does this girl LOVE books)
~Her amazing imagination and how she is really starting to create actual story lines and scenarios with her babies and toys.
~The high pitch voice she uses when she makes her dolls (or Claire) talk.

One thing’s for sure, 2 year old’s are the cutest.

3 months

Dear Claire Diana,

3 months!! Man oh man, how time is flying by. I already miss my tiny little newborn, even though you are getting cuter and sweeter with every passing day. You are seriously the cutest little doll of a baby. You are so happy and content, life is good for miss Claire. You are the perfect second child, not minding in the least if you need to just chill in your swing for a little bit while I spend some time with your big sister. Everyone comments on your laid back, good natured spirit and how you are such an easy baby, and you really are! You demand very little attention (although you still get PLENTY of it!) and you always greet everyone with great big, happy smiles.

You love to snuggle constantly. I’m probably creating some bad habits with you because you have NO desire to nap anywhere during the day besides on mommy (thank goodness for all the wraps/carriers/slings I have, otherwise I would get nothing done!) With Leah, by this age I was working hard getting her to nap in a crib, knowing that I was going back to work in a month and she would need to nap in a crib at daycare, but with you, there is no pressure or time line. You are most content to sleep on your mom, and I’m most content just to let you! I’m all about letting you take the lead and just do what you need to do, and I can’t lie and say I don’t love all my snuggle time with you. At night you are sleeping in your rock and play next to our bed from 9 pm to 4 or 5 am before waking up to nurse. Every single morning, after your early morning nursing session, you snuggle down in bed between me and your daddy for another few hours of sleep before getting up for the day. Again, another bad habit? Who cares!

You love to nurse, still eating every 2-3 hours, and you are chubbing up quite nicely. It cracks me up when you happen to catch my eye while you are nursing, and you break away to give me a big, huge happy smile, like you are happily surprised to see me there.

You have rolled over from your tummy to your back one or two times, but you really don’t see the need to expel much physical exercise. When we try and do tummy time, you will lift your head up for a minute or so, working on those core muscle, before deciding to just lie down and rest for some time. You just like to relax, no one can blame you for that! You are my delicious little snuggle bug and I am loving every minute of my days with you!!

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Motherhood

When I was young I played a game called “Family” with my younger sister Caitlin. Basically, the game entailed making a list of all your children-names and ages, discussing how many girls vs. boys you want, how many years apart each child would be, how many multiples you want (possibly 2 sets of twins and 1 set of triplets??) etc. This game could last well over an hour, as we intently discussed exactly what our future families were going to look like. And apparently at age 9 I thought it was totally feasible to have 20 children, 10 of which were multiples (twins and triplets fascinated me), but the point of the matter, the fact that I couldn’t imagine my life without being a MOM, has remained true. I feel like I’ve been in serious “mom training” since I was 14. I babysat constantly, worked at day cares, became a full time nanny….all while working on developing my own methods of childcare that I knew would serve me well once I finally became a mom myself. But I also had a second dream, right there along side my dream to be a mom, and that was to become a child life specialist. And I trained just as hard for that dream as well. I studied, I volunteered, I observed, I completed a grad school program, all to obtain this dream job of working with hospitalized children. I knew that these two dreams; to become a mother and a child life specialist, could happen simultaneously, but I also knew that eventually one dream would take over my heart, leaving little room for the other.

After I gave birth to Leah I had been working as a child life specialist for a little over 2 years. I loved what I was doing, and I loved the hospital where I was working. Although holding that baby in my arms made me ache to stay home with her full time, I also didn’t feel as though it was time yet to leave my work as a child life specialist. So, I did the next best thing, I took an extended maternity leave and returned to work after 4 1/2 months, dropping down to part time hours. And it worked for me. Leah thrived at “school” and I continued to fall more in love with my career. But then 2 more years passed and I became pregnant again. And suddenly thoughts of returning to work made me feel sick to my stomach. I still loved my job, but I knew I would soon have 2 sweet little ones at home. And I wanted to be there, nurturing them 24/7, more than I wanted anything else in the world. So Brett and I started having a conversation. Could this work? Would we be okay financially? What would this look like for our family? We went back and forth over many, many details for months. Claire was born and we still hadn’t come to a clear, concise decision. But then one night, as we were lying in bed yet again discussing our options (as my 12 week maternity leave is quickly coming to an end), Brett looked at me and said, “You know what? I think God just wants us to jump.”

So jump we will. I made it official with my boss just earlier this week (which was a crazy story in itself; involving the scheduled conversation happening 30 mins before planned, while I was still in Target, trying to chase Leah through the aisles and frantically checking out, getting home, and realizing that Leah had stolen a ball….) and it’s now official. I will not be returning to work. For now, I am saying good bye to child life and hello to being a stay at home mom. And my heart couldn’t feel happier. I wasn’t sure how I would feel once I resigned; would I feel liberated? Sad? Would I cry? It’s an odd feeling-walking away from this job I have invested my heart into for the past 5 years, and the job I have been dreaming about since I was 14. But you know what? This dream of being a stay at home mom, this dream of being with my girls every day; watching them play and learn and grow, that’s a dream of mine that’s older than any other. Back to childhood and playing “family” with my sister, back to watching my own mom who stayed home to raise her 4 girls and knowing that I wanted to be just like her, a dream that I feel excited and giddy to finally make a reality. And I feel so incredibly blessed that my family is in a position to make this dream possible. I’m so thankful for a loving, supportive husband, who wanted this dream to become a reality just as much as I did. I’ve absolutely LOVED my time as a child life specialist, and I’m not convinced that I am done with that career forever, but for now I am embarking on a new chapter of my life; staying home with my two little ladies. Our family is entering into a new season, full of a LOT of changes, but I am so excited to take this leap and see what comes next.

Family renewal

Although Claire is over 2 months old, we really haven’t had many weekends where it’s just been US-our little family of 4. Between multiple visits and the holidays-we have had family here almost every weekend since Claire was born. Which, don’t get me wrong, has been wonderful, but we were more than ready for some relaxing time together as a family. So, this past weekend we decided to head up to the island alone. We went out to breakfast at our favorite spot, strolled through a very busy farmers market, spent some time with my great aunt and uncle, drank wine and watched the sunset on the beach, and splashed in the pool. It was fun and relaxing, and exactly what we were hoping for. Claire totally got into the laid back, relaxing spirit and slept from 10 pm-7:30 am on Saturday. If she always slept like that, I think we would move to the island full time! 😉

Every time we head up to the island we talk about how lucky we are to have a connection to this place. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up vacationing here. My great aunt and uncle have owned a condo-just down the road from my in laws condo-for as long as I can remember, and my grandparents used to rent a place here for the winter as well. I have a photo album filled with pictures of me at the island as a young teen and lately Leah has become obsessed with carrying that particular photo album around and asking multiple times about everyone she sees as she flips through the pages and intently studies each photo. It makes me smile to think that one day she will have her own photo albums filled with pictures of her and her siblings playing on the same sand mommy did when she was a girl.

So a relaxing weekend it was and now we are back home where we have been enjoying some “cold” South Florida weather; perfect days in the low 70’s and chilly 50 degree nights. I know, I know, everyone up north dealing with snow storm after snow storm probably wants to kill me for calling that “cold,” but I’m just saying; when you live in South Florida, AKA the tropics, you gladly take any temps lower than 80 and call it winter!

2 months

Dear Claire Diana,

2 months…time is flying by! I look at you and my heart can’t seem to hold all the love I have for you. It spills over and makes me feel like my heart will burst from holding so much love. When I was pregnant with you I kept wondering how I could ever love another child as much as I loved your big sister Leah. It seemed as though my whole heart was full of love for Leah so I worried that I wouldn’t have any room left for another baby. But then you were born. And the minute you were put on my chest, I felt my heart grow. All that love I had for Leah was still there, but somehow, in that very moment, my heart grew and it was filled with even more love, this time all for you.

You are such a happy, content baby, and yet, most of the time you have this sweet little look of worry and concern on your face. That furrowed brow that I am constantly kissing away, like you are looking around trying to figure out this big world you’ve found yourself in. It makes me laugh because you seem to have inherited your mommy’s anxiety, or what your grandparents call mommy’s “Will there be a bathroom on this trip??” look. You’re welcome.

You have one deep dimple in your right cheek, identical to your daddy’s. It’s pretty much the one facial feature you inherited from him (along with your full lips) otherwise you seem to be (so far) mommy’s little clone. Grandma sent some pictures of mommy as a baby and we had a good laugh, seeing how alike you looked to mommy, especially the furrowed brow worried look and the squinty eye smiles.

You are a wonderful nurser and you are chubbing up quite nicely. You have your 2 month appointment later this week, so we will find out your “official” weight, but last night when daddy stepped on the scale while holding you, it looks like you weigh around 13 pounds! That’s pretty impressive. You are sleeping better and better, usually from about 10:30 pm-5:30 am. You then nurse quickly and fall back to sleep until 7:30 or 8 am. Last night, however, on your 2 month birth day, you decided to gift mommy and daddy with an impressive sleep from 10 pm-7 am! Was this a one time gift or can we expect this awesome sleep schedule to continue? I guess only time will tell.

You LOVE you sister (and she loves you!) Whenever she leans in to talk to you (pretty much in your face, I’ll admit) you smile and coo and lock eyes with her, staring up at your big sister. You watch her play, watch her dance, watch her talk…you are completely fascinated with her. She, in return, loves to kiss your head and squeeze your cheeks and she affectionately calls you “bug-a-boo.” I have a feeling that you two will be the best of friends before long.

We love you, our sweet Claire Bear!
Love,
Mommy and Daddy