Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We had a wonderful weekend full of some of my favorite things, food, shopping, friends, family.  I was having such lovely time that pictures are scarce but here is what I've got.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Toothfairy and Santa

Poor Carolyn had her wisdom teeth out this week. Yikes! She makes a pretty cute chipmunk, but I feel badly she is so miserable.

Cadence got to meet Santa and was mildly impressed.

Not a big fan of tang

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why I Love Being a Mom

Sometimes I look back on pre-baby life with a blend of wistful longing (entire days devoted just to me!) and confusion (what did I do with all that time?).  I remember my first pregnancy was very different from this one, I had time to read dozens of books, listen to podcasts, indulge cravings, shop, and take luxuriously long naps whenever the desire struck.

Honestly, it wasn't that great.  I've found that days spent in a lazy, self-indulgent fashion end in exhaustion, only it is missing the self-fulfillment and pleasure of the exhaustion at the end of a day of hard work.  I'm glad for the time I was able to research and study child-rearing, on the time to fill my relaxation tanks, and on the surplus of 'me-time' so I could realize how empty it is.

Where Cadence is stationed anytime someone is
 in the bathroom.  She looooves to practice
 her knocking skills.
Now, life has changed.  With the exception of my waking hour before she wakes (I have 50 minutes left!), nap time (two hours which I usually also spend in slumber), and post-bedtime (2-3 hours), my time and life is devoted to being Mommy.  I love it!  A chubby-cheeked cherub knocking on the bathroom door? Privacy is overrated!  Spilling her cereal (always dry, I'm no dummy) all over the floor?  Great, she can practice that pincer grip and extra motivation for me to keep things clean as possible.

I love my husband more.  Never before has his arrival home from work filled me with such joy and anticipation.  Daddy gets a few minutes to change, then the baby enjoys a buddy with renewed energy and enthusiasm for reading books Mommy has thoroughly memorized and is ready to chuck out the window.

It is God's work.  I just feel it.  I missed the feeling of working for and with the Divine that permeated my missionary service when I completed my mission and went back to school.  Imagine my surprise and joy as that feeling crept back into my life when Cadence entered the scene.  On many fronts, I simply have no idea what I am doing.  My personal stores of patience and understanding have not undergone massive reconstruction since having my own child.  But where I lack, I feel the Lord making up the difference.  I reach what would have been the end of my rope, only to find it extends much further than I could have imagined possible.  When my darling baby is in distress or my husband's child has reached the pinnacle of naughtiness, inspiration flows and I'll be able to implement an idea of how to fix it with a cool head.  None of that is me, I'm not cool under pressure at all.  It is the Lord reaching out and helping me in my weakness.

Everything is exciting and full of joy.  Toddlers are great!  There is nothing better than my kid's excitement to see me in the morning.  No matter how poorly I slept, or how lengthy my to-do list, or how warm and comfy my bed seems, it is eclipsed by my anticipation to get to see her cute little face light up and shout "Hi, Mommy!"

My kid thinks I'm hilarious.  Never was there an easier audience, but I still feel like a million bucks (and a creative genius) when I've devised some new way to elicit giggles.

She may be a harsh food critic, but when she is pleased there are lots of delighted vocal "Num, num!" and "Mmmmmm!" noises as she dives face-first into a supremely delicious dish.  Totally worth putting up with the 'Blah!' and tongue scraping when she doesn't like something (which is adorable in its own right).

I do what I want!  I am living the dream.
SIDENOTE- Well, my dream.  With fading youth and beauty have come age and wisdom (and believe me, I'd trade them in if possible).  I have come to realize that just because a situation is perfect for me and my ideal doesn't mean it is for everyone.  So, I'd like to just preface and say that I understand that being a full-time mom isn't in everyone's programming, realm of possibility, or preference.  I have no desire to hoist my preferences on anyone else, I am just writing out how I feel and what I am most grateful for this year.
OK, back to this bulletpoint.  My whole life I have wanted to be a mommy!  A career has never held the same sway, nothing seemed to hold the same meaning as personally raising (a hot button word, but sorry, what I do is a lot more than what a paid 'caretaker' does) my babies.  While I love my business, hanging out with my kid is so much better.  Every day I get to play chatelaine of Martineau Manor.  I manage the cleaning, cooking, laundry and other drudge chores, but hey- I'm the boss!  We rarely "stay at home", either.  We are out at the library, zoo, dog park, taking walks, aquarium, art museum, playplaces, mall-walking, running errands, meeting Daddy for lunch, playing at the park, or any other activity we can think of.  I manage my time how I see fit and thus get to plan out wonderful days we really enjoy.  Well, most of the time.  Cady is good for about 15 minutes of thrift store shopping before she wants out of there.  The point is, I love the freedom of being a Mom and being boss of my own day and life.

I love the show Parenthood, and recently a character was pointing out that in the workplace he knew he was good at what he did and received the professional accolades and salary to prove it.  As a parent, he wasn't so sure of himself and didn't have that positive feedback.  That resonated a bit with me at first, but I am learning to reject it.  There is a negative voice that loves to pipe up "Wow, you're a crap mom!" whenever I do something sub par, resort to screen time, my kid tastes anything processed, etc.  But where is that positive voice when I totally rock it?  No such voice, as that would be prideful, right?  Well, I reject that too.  I am an awesome Mom!  I don't need a boss to promote me because my kid is healthy and happy and, hey, lets face it- alive!  I don't need a paycheck, either (not that I'd be opposed if Ben were to start presenting me with bonuses).  I get paid in snuggles, kisses, pudgy arm hugs, huge smiles, every time my kid says "Mommy!" in that tone that seems to say you-are-my-favorite-person-ever!  I pat myself on the back for utilizing learning opportunities, having my kid in matching clean clothes, disciplining in a calm way, giving my kid a bath, successfully introducing her to new foods- you know, any part of doing my job.

Diapers are not as bad as I feared.  OK, if Ben is around when a stinky diaper situation presents, I happily delegate the changing to him.  But it is really not THAT bad.  And wet diapers are cake!  There is nothing cuter that those freshly cleaned buns, ready to be re-diapered.  Same thing with snotty noses and even vomit.  Yeah, I wouldn't mind if my kid's nose never ran or she never got sick, but clean-up is not nearly as atrocious as it would be with someone else's kid.  She is an extension of myself, in a way, and I love her to pieces and love taking care of her.

Every day is different.  She is growing and changing, quickly enough to keep things interesting but slow enough that I can get a handle on each stage.

My kid thinks I'm an awesome singer.  I return the favor by praising her as a top-notch dancer.  I am her biggest cheerleader and it is great because- hey, if I'm not, who will be?

As a mom you get to experience your favorite things all over again as for the first time.

You have to appreciate thing fleeting moments.  The days with a sometimes-cranky two year old can seem long, but the time is passing so quickly and she is getting so big!  Soon we will have more tiny babies in the house and she will be my big girl.  There is nothing I can do to stop the relentless march of time, but I can appreciate the little moments and everyday joys of being Mommy.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Atlanta, Huntsville, Nashville Trip

We are back from our final trip as a family of 3!  Technically, California was supposed to be the last, but we earned a companion pass on Southwest Airlines that has been burning a hole in my pocket.  I called my parents and they were free the following week so I booked the tickets.

Ben and I left Cady Kay to have a nice time with her grandparents in Huntsville, AL while we drove out to explore Atlanta for a few days.  The drive was beautiful and there were lots of fun stops along the way, including a sampling of Georgia peach cider and pecans, and a visit to the Unclaimed Baggage store.  Finally, a store Ben doesn't mind shopping in!

When we got to Atlanta, it was getting a little late so we had a quick dinner at a local Waffle House and then went to see Ender's Game.  We enjoyed getting to sleep though the night and only felt a small tinge of sympathy for my parents.  The next morning, we slept in so started the day with a mystery shop at the OK Cafe.  The down home cooking was amazing while the service was lacking.  Then we headed to the Georgia Aquarium.  At the time it was built it was the largest in the US, the displays were huge and varied.  We browsed around and barely finished by closing time.  Coca Cola World is in the same complex but open later, so that was our next stop.  There are a lot of cheesy displays, but it was fun and nice to be off my feet.  The best part was, of course, taste testing the various international offerings.  Strangely, if I hated one then Ben enjoyed it and vice versa.  We drank enough to justify our $16 admissions, then headed out to another mystery shop dinner of tacos at Tin Lizzie's.  it was delicious, but the rest of the night was spent filling out reports so I swore off mystery shopping on future vacations.

Friday morning we headed to Stone Mountain, which was beautiful.  We also paid a visit to see the world's largest collection of miniature chairs and were taken on a tour by the collector herself.  As you might imagine, she was quite the character.  Lunch was burgers, seasoned fries, and frozen custard at this tasty little local joint then we hit the road.  On the trip back to Huntsville we discovered Popcorn Haven, a little store which boasts over 250 flavors.

We got back to my parents home before Cadence's bedtime so got to say goodnight to the little sweetheart.  She was reported to be a joy, but we did hear some stories later about some mischief she got into.  While staying with my folks we visited the Hunstville Space and Rocket Center, had dinner at a yummy Italian place, and walked from their house to the Waffle House for breakfast- lucky!

On Monday we headed to Nashville to visit Financial Peace Plaza and see the Dave Ramsey Show live, had lunch at Bojangles, and then went to open mic night at the Bluebird Cafe (frequently featuered in the TV show Nashville).

My Snow Babies!

With the first real snow has come some seriously cold weather.  It is now a major chore to get Cadence warm enough for outdoors playtime,taking about twice as long in preparation as she actually spends outside. Thus, these are likely the first and last pictures!