Good-bye South Florida…

Before Brett and I got married we were living right outside Washington, D.C. Although we had some great friends in the area, we were looking for a change and Brett suggested moving to South Florida. I was originally pretty iffy about the idea (I think, as Brett laughingly put it last night, I said it was full of “bugs, humidity and old people” which really is all true…) but after getting a job offer at a great Children’s Hospital in South Florida, I warmed up to the idea and we made the move down in March 2011, 4 years ago this month. We LOVED living in Florida; being close to the beach, the perfect “winters,” an excuse to eat ice cream year around, what wasn’t to love?! But then a few years passed and we started a family with our two gorgeous daughters. And suddenly, even though all those perks of South Florida living were still there, some of the cons (such as being so far from family) started to outweigh the good.

About 2 months before Claire was born, Brett received a great job opportunity in North Carolina. But we would have had to sell the house, pack and move, and start a new job all within a week or so of Claire’s birth and it was just way too overwhelming. So we passed on the offer and decided to keep praying and asking God to lead us to where our family should be. However, the potential offer gave us the moving itch so we decided to go ahead and put our house on the market anyways, just to see what happened. We figured we would take our time and wait for the best offer and, should we sell before we had another potential job and/or move lined up, we would just rent for a bit until we figured out what our next step should be. And that’s when things got crazy.

Within a few weeks we received our first offer on the house. It was an okay offer, and although we tried to negotiate the price up a bit, we couldn’t get the buyers to meet us in the middle so we decided to walk away from the offer. Again, we weren’t in any hurry and we thought “Why accept a just okay offer when we could hold out for a potentially better one?!”

The day before my birthday, I resigned from my job, after deciding that being a stay at home mom was what was best for our family at this time. That night Brett and I went out to dinner with the girls and he joked about all the things I had accomplished by the age of 29: grad school, marriage, buying a house, giving birth to 2 kids, a great career, retirement from said great career (haha) and he joked, “Too bad you can’t say you sold your first house by 29 as well!” And then, on the morning of my 29th birthday, we received our second offer on the house. A solid offer that we would have accepted, but hey, why not try to negotiate them up a few thousand dollars to our “dream selling price”?! And low and behold, they accepted.

And then the next day we casually found out that the job opportunity from all those months ago was back on the table. And that the president of the company just so happened to be in Orlando for a convention the same weekend we were going to be there and would love to meet with Brett. And suddenly we were all, “Okay God, we hear you” because we knew there was NO way that this was all just coincidence.

Fast forward another week and Brett officially received an offer for an amazing position based out of Asheville, North Carolina, the same town that my parents live in. The same town I fell in love with the first time I visited over a year ago. We had been praying and praying for God to lead us to where our family was meant to be and we felt like God was basically shouting; “Here it is! I LITERALLY could not make this any clearer!”

So, we decided to listen. The sale on our house is almost complete (it’s been a smooth process through inspection and appraisal and we close in the beginning of April) and we are packing up the house and making the 11 hour trek north to our new home in Asheville, NC (well, we still need to find an actual home, but luckily we can always crash with my parents for a bit while we search!) We are going to really miss South Florida; our first home, our friends, the awesome weather…(although I’ll be honest, I am thrilled to pieces to experience SEASONS again, although I might change my tune after that first winter back in the cold…) but we really feel like this is the BEST decision for our family and I am so excited to raise my girls near family and in such an awesome family friendly area.

You’ve been good to us, South Florida, but now it’s time to move on to our next great adventure…

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.

Life Lately…

1. Leah is enjoying her first summer Popsicles.  This is the first time she had a Popsicle of her very own (as opposed to just licks of mine or Brett’s) and she is highly enjoying the summer experience. It was actually humorous to watch her the first time trying to figure out how to hold it by the stick, but she got the hang of it pretty quickly. Of course she’s not the neatest Popsicle eater in the world so she generally eats them half stripped down outside on the front porch where she can easily be hosed off. Nothing says summer like sticky toddler Popsicle hands, right??

2. I have been craving milkshakes with this pregnancy like something fierce. I think it’s because my stomach still can’t really handle a bowl of ice cream at night without my stomach starting to hurt, so I’m all about getting mid-afternoon milkshakes. On the healthier side…

I could seriously eat my weight in hummus right now. Cucumbers and peppers dipped in red pepper hummus is seriously my all time favorite snack, closely followed by pita chips dipped in hummus. Which is funny to me since even the sight of hummus made me want to gag when I was pregnant with Leah….

3. Leah is becoming such an independent swimmer!! We bought her a new arm/chest floaty a couple of weeks ago and she just took off in the pool. She loves to kick around like a big girl and jump off the side into the water all by herself. It boggles my mind how she is big enough to be swimming on her own already!!

4. Lucy is getting bigger (and cuter) and she seems to be making it her life mission to destroy our house plant. Every time I catch her ripping off the leaves she immediately stops and runs away, clearly knowing she is being naughty, but as soon as I turn my back once again she is back at it with the plant!! In spite of her shenanigans, we still love her and we are really enjoying having a dog in the family. Leah and Lucy are so cute together and it melts my heart every time I catch them playing and snuggling. (Random side note, we have had a few people jokingly ask us if baby #2 will have an L name to match Leah and Lucy and I adamantly say “NO!” We didn’t purposely name Lucy an L name and, as cute as her name is, I already find myself accidentally yelling Lucy instead of Leah and vice versa so  I can honestly say that baby number 2 will not be joining the L name crew!)

5. My youngest sister had a baby!! Little Madelyn Michelle was born in Alaska on the 4th of July and I am already in love with her puffy lips. Sadly, with them living so far away, it will be awhile before I get to meet my second niece, but until then I am enjoying all the pictures she sends of her! Crazy enough, I am one of 4 girls and our baby will be the 4th granddaughter…..so maybe we will be an all girl family who have all girls!

6. This proud smile coming from the big girl who used the potty for the first time ever!!! I’ll spare you the picture of the actual pee in her little potty (of course I took a picture!!) It was so funny because, although she asks to sit on her potty all of the time, she had yet to actually do anything in the past. Her potty time usually ends after 2 mins where she makes funny grunt sounds and faces and pushes on her stomach to “push the pee pee out” before jumping up and proclaiming that she is “all done! Good girl Leah!” So I really did not expect this time to be any different. I was busy giving Lucy a much needed bath in the tub (which side note, pisses Leah off to no end since that is “my tub!!”) and Leah was sitting on her potty perch watching me. I kept asking if she was all done and she would just give me a calm “nope!” before going back to singing her ABC’s (which tend to stop at “P” before starting all over again…). As I was finishing up blow drying Lucy, Leah proudly jumped up saying “All done!” and I looked in, shocked to see that she had actually gone!!! I think I freaked her out with my intense and over enthusiastic praise, but I was just so shocked!! No, she has yet to do it again, but it was a darn good start!

7. We bought this cute, tiny little baby shirt at a cute little shop down by our beach. Yes, I bought it in blue (with a matching pink one for Leah) because at the time I still honestly believed that baby was a boy! Oh well, baby girl will just be rocking blue and I still think it’s about the cutest thing in the world. I just love teeny tiny baby clothes!!

8. Random, funny story: When the Children’s Hospital where I work opened (we used to be a part of the adult hospital before moving across the street into a free standing hospital) we got to wear these lovely (said sarcastically) silk scarves at our hospital’s grand opening event. The scarves matched the different units color theme and they are printed with the hospital’s logo. Let’s just say that it’s been shoved in the back of my closet for the past 3 years. Well, somehow Leah found it and has decided that she loves this fashion accessory. Brett takes her to school in the morning and apparently they keep it in the back seat for her to wear once she gets into her car seat. The other weekend when we were all in the car together Leah was whining for her “scarf” and I asked Brett, confused, what she meant. “Oh,” he replied calmly, “She wants her riding scarf.” And with that he reached behind him and handed Leah my lovely bright orange hospital scarf that she immediately wrapped around her neck. So there we have it, a riding scarf for Leah. If only we could all be so fancy….

9. I have been attending a spin class and a cardio interval class at my gym 2x a week. I am LOVING spin, as hard as it is, because it really feels like it is keeping my legs (and more importantly, my butt!) in shape during this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Leah I didn’t really work out much at all, so this is all so different for me this time around. I will definitely be writing a post about my experience with working out while pregnant soon!

10. Leah has been loving trips to the playground, regardless of how hot and humid it is outside. It’s always a battle to get her to leave, but it’s worth it to see how much fun she has! This past time she totally shocked me by climbing up the ladder to the slide all by herself. Usually I hold her under her arms to help her lift her small body from one step to the next, but this time she was adamant about doing it herself. “Mommy I do it!” she would scold me if I tried to touch her so I stood back and watched, amazed, as her strong little arms and legs pulled herself up. I know she’s almost 2 and all, but every time she does something like this it really makes me realize that she is definitely not a baby anymore!! Also, she insists on wearing this exact outfit whenever we go to the park. She calls it her “play suit” and she will run to go find it whenever I say that we are going to walk to the park. Who knows what she will do once she outgrows it!

11. Talking about big girl…this month Leah moved up to the 2-3 year old classroom! She is such a smart girl that they moved her up before she turned 2 because she is definitely ready. I love it because it has a more pre-school structure, as opposed to the baby room she used to be in, and it’s insane to see how fast she learns. The other night at dinner she sang “Twinkle Twinkle” pretty much word for word (complete with hand motions!), which isn’t a song we usually sing at home (here, we’re all about the ABCs and “Wheels on the Bus” these days…) so I knew it was something she learned in school, which I love!! I also love hearing her talk about her friends at school and who she played with that day. As much as working (even part time) can make me feel guilty at times, when I see how verbal Leah is and how much she is learning it really makes me see the value of her few hours of “school” every day!

12. And last, but not least….this girl’s personality lately has been cracking me up. It was funny because the other day my mother-in-law texted me and Brett a picture of two pairs of shoes she bought Leah as options for her flower girl dress for my sister-in-law’s wedding in a few weeks and she asked “Do you think Leah will have a preference?” and I immediately laughed and texted back, “Definitely!!” Lately, this girl has an opinion about EVERYTHING, from the shoes she wears to school, to what color bib she wears, to what she eats for dinner to what pj’s she wears to bed (which is why she usually ends up with some lovely get-ups such as this one-her beloved “kitty cat” shirt with her “doggy” pants). I’m trying really hard to find a balance between encouraging her independence and choice making, but also setting down the rules and making sure she knows that mommy and daddy are in charge. When it comes to pj’s, I could really care less if she wants to put together her own outfit creations, but when it comes to snacks and dinner, she does not get free reign! (Which would basically lead her to eating either crackers, yogurt or Cheerios if she had the choice…) This has led to quite a few fits these days, but we are slowly finding our groove with allowing options, without letting miss bossy pants totally take over. One things for sure, this girl definitely knows what she wants! Although I’m doubting a career as a fashion designer is in her future…. 😉

Why I do what I do….

So I know I’ve talked many, many (MANY) times about how much I love my job, but it’s true; I have the best job in the world. As a child life specialist (especially one that works in an outpatient setting) I encounter a high volume of patients on a weekly basis (probably upwards of 100) and, although I have some amazing interactions and some not-so-amazing ones, very rarely do I see these kids more than one time. Because of that, I usually have no way of knowing if (or how) my interaction with a specific child made a difference in their life outside of their brief hospitalization. And, really, that’s fine. I didn’t get into the field of child life for the praise and admiration (because if so, it would be laughable at how LITTLE praise we actually get….) but instead I do it because I want to make a difference in a child’s experience HERE and NOW, at the very moment of high anxiety and stress. And if they then skip out the door, with the memory of me left behind, I’m honestly happy, because hopefully that means that child is leaving without a care in the world. But every once and awhile, usually in the midst of a stressful day (or week), when I’m having those kinds of thoughts like “this place (and everyone in it) drives me crazy..” something happens, like a little beacon from God, that reminds me why it is I do what I do. (And why it’s so darn special).

Yesterday was one of those days. After having some (not so fun) encounters with co-workers and dealing with some stressful phone calls, I was taking a break to walk our hospital therapy dog across the street so she could “get busy.” (I know, I know, my job sounds increasingly glamorous). As I neared the middle of the road, a car screeched to a halt and a woman rolled down the window yelling, “Christina!” I, admittedly, didn’t recognize her (like I said, I meet a LOT of people on a daily basis….) but then the back window rolled down and a freckled face, no front tooth, smile beamed out and I immediately recognized her. Patient P was an adorable, but HIGHLY anxious patient I’ve had the honor of working with twice. My first interaction with P was about 2 months ago. She was admitted and a co-worker called me as she was on her way down to the outpatient surgical unit for a (pretty common and not very invasive) procedure. “She’s an anxious one..” my co-worker warned me. And, not long after I hung up, I heard P coming around the corner, being wheeled in her bed as she cried her eyes out, with mom trailing after her. P was the type of 9 year old who was not easy to please. She looked at me suspiciously when I entered the room and continued crying. I concentrated on mom, introducing myself and explaining what child life could do to help. Then, I turned my attention to P. “Hey! What’s your name?” Tears. “My name is Christina! It’s nice to meet you!” More tears. Needing a different strategy I told P I would be right back, that I needed to go get something super fun. I came back with beads and string and sat right down on her bed. And what do you know, the tears stopped. P and I spent a good 20 minutes making bracelets for her, myself, mom, the nurse….you get the point. Not once did I mention the procedure, we just chatted casually. Once she got going, P was quite the chatter box. The therapy dog came. We had her jump up on the bed and snuggle P for another 20 minutes. We made the dog a name bracelet too. Only then did I bring up the procedure. The tears welled. We talked, I joked….tears dried up, smiles came out. I ended our encounter with giving her a stuffed toy to take back to the OR with her to “keep her brave.” (Of course then a name necklace was made for the bear as well…)

About 3 weeks later P came back for a follow-up. Our encounter was brief, as she happily told me “I’m not nervous this time!!” and, since I had plenty of other kids who WERE in tears about this or that, I quickly said hello, gave a re-fresher course of the anesthesia mask, hooked her up with some arts and crafts, and then was on my way. It was a 10 minute tops encounter.

Fast forward to yesterday. There was P beaming from the back of mom’s car, and mom asked if they could pull into the hospital drive real quick. I said sure and hurried to let the dog do her thing. When I came back to the hospital I was greeted with a big hug from P and 3 bags full of Webkinz. P proudly told me that the stuffed animal I had gifted her had helped so much, that, when she left the hospital, she told her mom that she wanted to collect new stuffed animals to give to the other kids who were just as worried as she was. My eyes welled. I noticed that she was still wearing her (backwards) name bracelet we had made 2 months previously. She then turned to her mom and said “tell her! mom tell her!” Her mom smiled and said, “You tell her, P!” P looked me right in the eyes and said, “When I grow up, I’m going to become a child life specialist. I’m going to be just like you.” Cue tears overflowing (stupid pregnancy hormones…) I gave her a hug and told her that she would be an EXCELLENT child life specialist, and that any hospital would be lucky to have her. Mom went on and gushed about how wonderful child life was, how impressed she was, and how P has been talking about being a child life specialist ever since, even telling the kids in her class all about it.

And that is why I do what I do. Not for the praise, not for the admiration, not for the “oh we were so impressed with you” (although, admittedly it feels good and is nice to hear), but for the little 9 year old who looks me right in the eyes, standing straight and tall, and proclaiming that she too would one day be a child life specialist. Because we are always in need of more passionate girls (and guys!) who are committed to making the hospital a less scary place for our kids. And P? Your bright smile made my week, girl, and you are going to ROCK the world of child life one day.

A little more to the story…

12 weeks

First off, I just wanted to thank everyone for their wonderful congrats and well wishes on Facebook, Instagram and on the blog. Obviously Brett and I are extremely thrilled (as would Leah, I’m sure…if she actually knew what was going on….) and we’ve loved reading everyone’s messages.

Backing up a bit….
Brett and I knew that we wanted to add baby #2 to our family sometime soon. We both grew up in families where most of our siblings have about a 2 year age gap and we really wanted the same for Leah and her sibling. However, last time I got pregnant with Leah I wasn’t expecting it to happen so fast and I ended up getting pregnant right in the middle of my half marathon training, which led to me withdrawing from the race and spectating from the sidelines instead. Since I had been training and planning on running the Miami Beach Half Marathon on March 2nd I adamantly told Brett that we were NOT allowed to get pregnant before then because I was running this race, gosh darn it! So the race went awesome and a few days after the race I jokingly said to Brett, “Okay, now we can get pregnant!” And not 3 weeks later…..we were celebrating a positive pregnancy test. Completely crazy, especially coming from me and my PCOS ravaged ovaries (for more on my first pregnancy journey, you can read here) so let’s just say we were in complete and utter shock (yet again a testament to God’s amazing grace).

Right when I got pregnant I just knew.I don’t know if that sounds crazy, or if I was just in tuned with my body, having done this before, but I just had a feeling. I felt “funny” and, one Sunday as Brett, Leah and I were playing in the backyard, I got super dizzy and almost fainted. This happened to me ALL the time when I was pregnant with Leah, so when it happened, I just looked at Brett and he gave me a knowing look in return. Low and behold, a few days later, once it was finally late enough to take a test, my intuition proved to be correct.

The start of my pregnancy felt more or less the same as my first. Tired, nauseous, but happy. And then everything changed….

I debated whether or not to share my story, since it is personal in so many ways, but then I thought about how lost, scared and helpless I’ve felt over the past few months. And if writing about my experience helps even one person who may be experiencing the same thing, it makes it all worth it. So here we go. If you do not like reading words like cervix, placenta and/or blood, you may want to stop here.

The morning of my first doctor’s appointment, at around 6 weeks along, I went to work excited and ready for my first appointment. Not 30 minutes into the day, while walking to my unit, I felt that awful “gush.” I quickly headed into the bathroom where my worst fears were confirmed. Blood…and a lot of it. I freaked. I was totally convinced that I was miscarrying right there in the hospital bathroom. I knew spotting was common in early pregnancy, but this? This was much, much more than that. Trying not to cry, I frantically made my way back to the office and immediately called Brett to come and pick me up. Since I already had an appointment scheduled for 10 am that morning, I didn’t feel the need to rush to the ER. I knew it would be better to just go home and wait as, if I was miscarrying, there was nothing they could do to stop it in the ER anyways.

The next few hours felt like an eternity. I lied on my bed praying while I counted down the minutes until we could leave for my appointment. By the time we left, the bleeding had slowed down, but not stopped. We went to the appointment and I tried to mentally prepare myself for whatever news we might hear. My doctor was amazing; kind, compassionate, saying all the right things at the right time. Unfortunately, being so early on, she didn’t want to do an ultra sound because it might be too early to see a heartbeat and she didn’t want us to freak out more if we couldn’t find one. So blood work was the only way to go, while waiting until next week to do an ultra sound. They took blood two days apart to see if my HCG levels were rising (and was therefore still pregnant). Those few days were painful and I think I drove everyone at the lab crazy, calling every 10 minutes to see if they had the results in yet. A few days later, with blood work back and an ultra sound done, we were told the (tentative) good news: I was still pregnant. The baby was hanging on.

Two weeks later, it happened again. After a panicked call to my dr’s office I was rushed to an emergency ultra sound. Again, baby was fine, but it looked like I was suffering from a tear in my placenta. It should heal, but until then, no exercise or any strenuous activity until my 12 week scan.

So the next few weeks I was insanely cautious. I did nothing strenuous, while I slowly watched all my muscles turn to jello (I don’t do no exercise well….) Every day I held my breath and prayed for no more bleeding, and as the weeks past, things were looking great. I suffered no more “issues” and I was convinced that the tear had healed and the rest of pregnancy would get back on the normal track.

Then came the morning of my 12 week scan. Again, I went to work, as my appointment was scheduled for later that morning. And again, about an hour into work, the all too familiar gush of blood.I tried not to let the panic rise, but it was impossible to stop. I was convinced that this was all behind me. It had been weeks since my last episode and the tear should have been completely healed by now. Brett and I went to my ultra sound on bated breath. All I wanted to see was that tiny heartbeat, steady and strong. Tears rolled down my cheeks when the tech showed us our baby, happily bouncing around in my womb, completely healthy and unharmed. There was no placenta tear so we were at a loss as to what was causing the bleeding. The ultra sound tech said that the baby looked great, the placenta looked healthy, my cervix was closed…basically everything was as it should be. She believed that I may be suffering from a cervical polyp, which can cause irritation and bleeding. And it can continue throughout my entire pregnancy.

I have an appointment next week and I am just praying for answers. Every time the bleeding happens I freak, fearing the worst for my baby, and every time we are shown again and again that this baby is fine. He/she is strong, healthy, and perfectly content. But that doesn’t stop the frustration, the fear, the horror that washes over me every time I experience a bleed. I’ll tell you what, I feel like these past few months have been a huge testament of my faith. I have been depending on prayer, leaning on God, crying out in fear, and giving praise and thanks, on a daily basis for MONTHS. And, although exhausting, it’s reminded me again and again that I have no control of this body. Of this pregnancy. Of this baby. This is all His. And I will continue to pray and trust that He does have a plan for this pregnancy and this child that I am carrying.

So there you have it. With all that’s going on Brett and I debated for a long time when (and if) we should publicly announce this pregnancy. But the thing is, this is such a huge part of my life right now that it felt odd to hide it. And, heaven forbid something DID happen, I would want to share and I would be dependent on the prayers and support from those around me. So, until I have an answer I just keep reminding myself how amazingly blessed I am to be carrying a child AGAIN! But….I also hope that I finally get some answers at my appointment next week so I can finally feel some peace!!! Until then, if ANYONE has any suggestions, advice, thoughts, prayers, etc for me I would greatly appreciate it!!

Lately I’m Loving…..

1. This funny girl’s poses when I go to take her picture. Not too long ago, it was tough to get her to even LOOK at the camera, but now, this girl is always ready with a “cheese!” and a pose. The other day when I went to snap a quick pic to show my sister her new outfit, she stuck her hands on her waist and threw out the perfect hip thrust, all while screaming “CHEEEEESE!” and smiling directly at the camera. Where does she come up with these poses?! Who knows, but one things for sure, it sure does make taking pictures of this little model amusing, wondering what new pose she’s going to give me next.

2. How happy this guy was to drive around our neighbor’s 1960’s VW bug convertible for his birthday. We have the COOLEST neighbor named June. She’s about 80 something years old and this woman can talk your ear off about anything and everything. A strong Christian, she will ask you if you love the Lord within minutes of meeting her, and she has the strongest faith I’ve ever seen. She has lived in her house since the ’60s (She’s a neighborhood original!) and she knows everyone in town, even telling me what pharmacist is best at Target. The other day we were out talking with her and she gave us a CD that she just recorded of Gospel and Folk songs that she wrote herself! Her band is called June and the June Bugs and they are currently recording a new CD. I love it! Anyways, she has the coolest stuff in her garage, including this car and a surf board that has Brett drooling. Luckily, she is the sweetest woman in the entire world and she encourages us to drive this baby around whenever we want! So, for Brett’s birthday we took down the top, somehow finagled Leah’s car seat to strap into the back seat, and went cruising around town, down to the beach. And that husband of mine was in heaven!!

3. How Leah says “Cheerios.” I want to remember it forever. “Che-chows” she asks for ever morning, “che-chows?” It sounds so gosh darn adorable coming out of her mouth and Brett and I have even found ourselves saying che-chows, hoping the name sticks around forever.

4. This proud little smile she gives me when she sits and eats at her big girl table instead of her highchair. Someone is a baby no longer!

5. Friday night pizza picnics that turn into summer nights at the playground. There is this pizza place downtown that Brett and I are obsessed with. Brett, having grown up right outside of NYC, considers himself to be a bit of a pizza connoisseur, and I have to admit, the man knows his stuff. I still remember one of our first dates where he drove me all over Long Island, tasting the pizza at all his favorite shops. Luckily he married a woman who loves pizza just as much as he does, and, when we moved to FL, the first thing we did was search out the best pizza places. I remember the first time we stepped into this pizza place. Honestly, you can’t even call it a restaurant. It’s just one long skinny strip of hot, un-airconditioned, slightly dirty, space with a long counter and signed dollar bills taped all over the walls. “This is the one” Brett nodded, convinced. And when we took our first bite of those (huge!) pieces, we were convinced. The place is basically a dirty hole in the wall with signs taped all over the counter (“cash only!” Don’t ask for forks or knives!” “If you annoy us, we will ask you to leave!” etc) but the pizza speaks for itself and we are hooked. It’s the perfectly place to grab a few slices before watching Leah run around the park, going up and down the slide a million times.

6. Leah’s obsession with selfies. I have a million and 5 photos on my cell phone that either look like this, or just pictures of her forehead.

7. My girly girls obsession with hair bows and accessories. As soon as she wakes up she is asking “bow? bow?” and after I stick one in she will give herself a good look in the mirror, complete with a head tilt and an “ohhh pretty!”

8. Weekend IKEA dates. We love going, even if we don’t plan on buying anything. We head there early, sit in the cafe and enjoy a cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee, before pursuing the displays. We usually head home with something small, cute potted plants or new picture frames, but it’s really more about the experience than the actual shopping!

9. Our quick one night visit with grandpa and the Winnie the Pooh he brought with him (which Leah is now OBSESSED with!) My dad had a quick business meeting in town so we got to host him for one night before he flew out. It was so great having him and Leah made sure to get in a LOT of grandpa snuggles before he left. Luckily we already have a trip planned to see grandpa and grandma in North Carolina next month, so we don’t have to wait long until we see him again! Until then, Leah carries around her new friend everywhere and Winnie is always there at night to snuggle Leah to sleep.

10. Our new power washed driveway and painted front porch. I’ve said it before, but we live in a cute 1960’s ranch and the front porch and driveway definitely hadn’t been washed since….ever. They were both black and disgusting looking it just really ruined the curb appeal. So for Mother’s Day, Brett spent HOURS, power washing the porch and driveway and then painting the porch a gorgeous greyish/blue. I cannot get over how amazing it looks and how it totally changes the look of our house. Next up is painting that front wall a fresh white.

Life Lately…

1. I went to a Paint Party to celebrate one of my good friend’s upcoming wedding. Has anyone ever done one of these before? I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive when I first heard of the idea (partially because I am probably the least artistic person I know), but the night turned out to be a blast!! We brought wine and food and spent the night drinking, eating and laughing with friends while our instructor walked us step-by-step through the painting. And now my beach masterpiece is hanging in our back den! It was such a fun night and I definitely want to go back for another event!!

2. Our boss took the child life team out to lunch last month to celebrate March being child life month! My friend and I attempted to split that huge sundae between the two of us. Let me just say, as much as I LOVE ice cream, there was no way in heck we could finish that monstrosity. We made a pretty good dent though!! I know I say this all the time, but I LOVE child life and I am so incredibly grateful to work with the crazy group of women up there (and more…since not everyone is pictured…)

3. I made some amazingly delicious buffalo chickpea quinoa burgers the other day! It’s tough (if not impossible) for me to get Brett to eat any type of veggie burger, but when I saw that this chickpea “burger” was made with a healthy helping of buffalo sauce, I knew I had a chance! (Hubs does love his buffalo sauce). I thought they came out AMAZING and they received a thumbs up from Brett, which is not an easy feat. Let me know if anyone is interested in the recipe….

4. So we are officially getting a puppy!! Brett’s brother and his wife have two adorable golden retrievers who had  puppies a few weeks ago. Brett and I have been having the “dog talk” for awhile now, and golden puppies are just too cute to pass up. We have to wait a few months, obviously, but hopefully the new member of our family will be here early summer! Before we decided for sure, Brett wanted me to bring home my hospital’s therapy dog (who I’m a handler for) as a “trial run” to see how Leah reacted. I think it’s safe to say that Leah is pretty crazy about dogs, especially when it comes to feeding them crackers and trying to get them to drink out of her sippy. I also enjoyed some good cuddling with my favorite golden (who doesn’t know that she may soon be replaced for that number 1 spot…..)

5. Summer is officially on it’s way to Florida! I feel like winter lasted about 5 days this year (that one week…when it was gloomy and 50 degrees…) before it decided that it was time for summer. Which is fine with me. Because we are all about water play these days and are enjoying warm days at the playground and in our backyard!

6. The whole family attended a friend’s 1920’s themed birthday party. Brett is not one to dress up for any “theme” events (and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan either) but when I found out that a friend was having a 1920’s themed party I was pretty excited, mainly because I knew I had the most perfect dress. Brett was a little harder to convince to dress up, but in the end he was a good sport and I thought he looked quite dapper in his seersucker pants! (And Leah was obviously a doll in her pearls and feather headband…)

7. Lately Leah has been VERY picky about what pajamas she wears. Clothes during the day, she could care less about, but as soon as it comes time to change into her pajamas, she’s suddenly the most opinionated toddler in the world. The past few weeks she has been on a mismatched kick, and it just HAS to include her “Me-Mouse” shirt and “Eeeee Eeeee” pants. As you can see, she also likes to pair the outfit with her fancy Easter hat. Every night she asks “Me-mouse? Eeee Eeee?” And heaven forbid this lovely pajama outfit is in the wash and she becomes quite distraught. It’s so funny to see her little personality come out these days. One things for sure, she is a girl who knows just what she wants and she sticks to it!

8. The gorgeous weather means that we have started our evening beach tradition back up. Leah just loves strutting down the boardwalk and, as you can see from that first picture, everyone gets a kick out of watching her. This girl has a personality, that’s for sure. And unlike her mother and father, she seems to thrive being in the spotlight! Evenings at the beach are my all time favorite part of the day (and weekend) and I’m glad to start up this tradition once more!

9. Leah has figured out how to use the computer and there are many days when I’m busy in the kitchen and I peek into the back den to see Leah checking her favorite blogs or writing an important email…..

10. We have unofficially started pre-potty training over here. A few months ago, during an IKEA trip, we picked up a potty because it (like everything that is IKEA) was awesome and cheap and we thought “why not!?” For awhile Leah just enjoyed dragging her potty seat around and sitting on it (fully clothed) while she read a book or 2. Now, every once and awhile, she will point to the potty and ask “pee pee?” So we will pull down her diaper and let her sit on the potty while we run her bath or while she eats her snack. We really aren’t officially training yet, but I figured that it’s at least good for her to get to know the potty, and get used to sitting on it, so when we do “get serious” about it (probably after she turns 2) she will be ready to go!

11. I spent my first weekend away from Leah, traveling north to Savannah with some great friends to see our gorgeous friend’s wedding. (Much, much more on this later). It was so tough to be away from Leah, but I also had a blast! Since I nursed Leah well past one, that was always my excuse not to travel without her (and I liked having that excuse!) but now that we aren’t connected anymore (literally) it definitely does give me more freedom. I had such a great time on my girls weekend, but it was definitely nice to get back and kiss those squishy cheeks again!! (Leah’s of course…not Brett’s….haha ;-))

Whew!!! A lot has happened in the past month when I (unintentionally) took a break from this blog! Life is just moving so fast these days, I feel like I’m scrambling to keep up! Much more to come on my trip to Savannah. Happy Tuesday! 🙂