Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seven Months

This past Sunday marked the seven month mark for our tot. She is officially over 2 feet long and weighs in at 18+ lbs. This is (by far) my most favorite stage yet, and it makes me so excited for all of the fun things we have planned in the coming months!

Taylor has crossed many milestones in the last couple of weeks, and we are very proud of our little girl! A few days before Easter, she started sitting, and a few days after that she cut her first tooth. Then out of nowhere this past weekend, she said her first word, "Dada." Jake was ecstatic (even though everyone knows that technically "Dada" is easier to say than "Mama"), and we both have been begging her to say it over and over again. Hearing your baby's voice for the first time truly is the sweetest thing. I can't wait for the day when she looks at me with those baby blues and says, "Mama!" 

I am constantly amazed as her personality continues to develop. People are always commenting on what a happy baby she is and, for the most part, she genuinely is! (I mean, we all have our days...) She loves to give big hugs and kisses (which is really just opening her mouth and then slobbering all over your cheek), and nothing makes her happier than being naked. Can you blame her?

She has started eating three meals a day and loves drinking water out of her Hello Kitty sippy cup (watching her chubby little fingers attempt to hold the handles makes my heart melt). I love how clumsy and innocent her movements are as she attempts every new task. She is fearless like her father and sensitive like her mother. She loves affection and is always grabbing or petting our faces. 

She is just the sweetest thing ever, and we're so fortunate to call her ours.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Struggles of a Working Mom

Before I began my ramblings, I should note that (despite other posts) I am very grateful for my job. I don't mind coming to work everyday, although, given the choice, I would much rather stay home and do the 5,000 other things on my "If I Only Had the Time" list. But I don't come from a wealthy family and I refuse to live off the government, so that's that.

Up until about seven months ago, I had fully accepted my lifelong 9-5. Then Taylor was born and my entire mindset changed. On one hand, I am super thankful for the extra income that my job brings in. Let's face it, babies are expensive little creatures. What I'm not thankful for is the constant struggle of being pulled in two different directions (I'm sure this is something all working mothers out there can relate to). I miss my chubby-cheek girl her from the second her daddy takes her to daycare in the morning until I am able to pick her up at night. And putting in overtime has become an excruciating task, as every extra minute away from her feels like an eternity. I realize that I won't always feel this way, but right now she is so sweet and loving that I long to be with her all the time. I believe the saying goes something like "the days drag on but the weeks fly by." Uh, no joke. The past seven months have been a whirlwind (to say the least). I feel like our baby is growing at super speed while I sit behind a desk paying someone else to relish in the joy that is our beautiful daughter. But my husband has reminded me (daily) that I will never be a stay-at-home-mom (something about the insanity that would ensue from my mind having too much time on its hands...blah blah blah), so I write the daycare checks and watch videos on my iPhone to make it through the day.

Speaking of child care, can we discuss this issue for a moment? When in the world did daycare become so competitive? It is work trying to find a certified, reliable, competent, trustworthy individual to care for your child! My husband and I scoured through list after list of potential caretakers for our unborn babe before finally finding one that was clean, organized, and didn't have a bunch of heathens running around. My general theory in life is that people are insane, and the thought of leaving our precious newborn with a complete stranger scared the living daylights out of me. We knew right away that we wanted an in-home daycare that was small and would provide our infant with plenty of love and attention. Luckily, we were able to find just that (which was nothing short of a miracle) and, so far, we are extremely happy with our sitter's services. She is quite possibly as Type A as I am (which immediately prompted a 'yes' vote from me). She respects a daily routine that doesn't revolve around the TV, always has fun activities for the kids to do, and genuinely cares for our babe. If I have to leave our daughter in the hands of someone else, I'm happy it's her.

What I'm not overly enthused about is the cost of said services. While I understand that we live in a city and therefore the cost is higher (something about supply and demand but I slept through most of Economics...), I didn't realize it was going to consume half of my monthly paycheck! I understand that you pay for what you get, but come on! Not to mention the time that my husband and I are required to take off whenever the daycare is closed (mostly unpaid due to our lack of vacation time). I get that sitters need a break just like any other job, but a week for Spring Break, two weeks (paid) in the summer, and a week and a half (paid) at Christmas? That's more time off than my husband and I get combined!

But that's the way the system works and it's not just our daycare - the same went for every other facility we looked into. If you're going to play the game, you have to play by their rules. Doesn't mean I can't complain about it though...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Baby's First Easter

As with nearly every trip we take with our baby in tow, this one started off as a disaster. I left work early on Friday in hopes of getting a hair cut and a new iPhone sans baby. The weather was perfect and we would be heading to my parents' house for the holiday weekend that evening - what could possibly go wrong?

My first mistake was walking into a hair salon in the mall expecting them not to butcher my hair. I asked for a trim and walked out with literally half of the hair that I had when I went in. Whatever. It's hair; it'll grow back. My second mistake was thinking I could trade my current iPhone for a new iPhone in less than an hour. It continues to amaze me how incredibly s-l-o-w the sales person that assisted me was. But 90 minutes and about half of my photos later (which I later recovered from iCloud - thank the Lord!), I was on my way home with my new phone in tow.

Despite the previous mishaps, I was downright giddy as I scream-sang with the windows rolled down on my drive home. Past experience has taught me to pack for overnight outings at least 2-3 days in advance (otherwise I will forget basically everything), so our bags were packed and we were ready to roll. Or so I thought. It wasn't until we arrived at my parents' house (late, of course, due to slowest employee ever at Radio Shack) that we realized we had forgotten to pack formula and diapers. A not-so-quick-trip to the nearest Wal-Mart (which is 20 miles away) remedied the problem, but not without causing a lot of unnecessary stress and running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Situations like that make me thankful I no longer live in a small town (I mean, would it kill a store to stay open past 8:00 p.m.)?

But regardless of Friday night's incidents, it's safe to say that Taylor had a great first Easter. Not only was the weather phenomenal but for the first time in forever our entire family was in good health, so we made the most of it. Saturday we enjoyed Easter dinner (which is actually lunch but for some reason my family calls lunch "dinner" and dinner "supper"). We spent the afternoon relaxing on the patio, eating our weight in pie, and watching the kids play. Later, we took a stroll to the park for the town's annual Easter egg hunt. Although she was too young to participate, Tay had a blast watching the other kids run around - just look at that grin!

We spent the remainder of the evening enjoy each other's company and then headed to bed early in anticipation of the Easter bunny's arrival. I have always been a huge fan of this holiday and adding a child to the mix only increased my joy this year (as apparent by her Easter basket goodies, which I may or may not have started collecting just after Christmas). Her loot included a personalized, hooded beach towel (the thought of her chubby little bikini-clad body wrapped in it makes me so excited for summer!!), a few books, some teething keys, some new summer outfits, and Penny the Pig. Girl cleaned house.

After we opened our Easter goodies, we put on our Sunday best and headed to church. Taylor is typically pretty good during church (usually opting to sleep through most of it). However, her feeding schedule was a little off that morning causing us to have to feed her during the service, which would've been fine until her bottle ran dry and she proceeded to scream bloody murder until we popped an additional few ounces back in her mouth. Sheesh, the kid loves her food (as if you couldn't tell). Luckily, this fiasco happened during the children's message and most of the congregation was focused on 30 kids attempting to "sit quietly" and listen to the preacher. Ha. Yeah right.

When everyone was back in good spirits, we decided to snap a few family pics after church to commemorate the occasion. It's not every day we're all accounted for and dressed up.

As you can probably imagine, getting all 5 of these children to cooperate for a photo is no easy task. Let's just say, many bribes were made in the process. 

All in all, we had a great weekend. And we learned that plastic Easter eggs are a teething baby's dream.

I couldn't help but snap a pic of Tay while the church sat so beautifully in the background. It's days like this that remind me just how truly blessed I am.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Six Month Photos

I know that I'm supposed to be on hiatus, but we just received the photos from Taylor's six month shoot and I had to share them! Incorporating this royal blue & coral color combo into our shoot was a no brainer. I am in love with all of the vibrant colors that have made their way back from the 80's are in style this spring. Plus, I knew the hubs would be happy because it meant he could wear blue.

This kid is a straight up HAM in front of the camera these days. She's still completely uncooperative for Jake or myself, but for anyone else? She works it.

I could smooch those chubby cheeks all. day. long.

The rest of our family continues to remain incredibly unphotogenic. Jake manages to "Chandler" it up as soon as he sees a flash and, as for myself, no matter what I look like in front of the mirror, as soon as I step outside, I immediately turn into a squinty eyed/wind blown hair/scrunched up face mess. Thankfully, our photographer is amazing and was able to catch a few decent family shots. It's pretty sad when the baby is the most cooperative out of the three of us.

Regardless, I'm so happy with how these photos turned out. They capture her personality spot on, and I know that later down the road I'll be thankful that we have been so incessant with our photo taking. When I was pregnant with Taylor, we discovered that my husband only has a handful of photos of him as a baby (which makes sense as he was the third child and who has time for that with three kids?!). Combine that with the fact that my husband works at a photography lab, and this child was destined to be in front of a camera, like it or not. But honestly, a face like this needs to be recorded for posterity. At least I think so.

Images courtesy of Crystal Arellano Photography. She is a beautiful person and an amazing photographer. I highly recommend her services! You can contact her and see more of her portfolio here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Under Construction

Our house, that is, not this blog. We are currently in the process of gutting our kitchen, which means that life has officially turned into total and complete chaos. Working full time and taking care of a baby while attempting to box up the pantry, rip up the floor, and patch the drywall has proven to be more than enough on my plate for the time being, so I'm taking a small hiatus from the blog until this project is complete. In the meantime, we will be chugging coffee, living off of hot pockets, and making 500 more trips to Home Depot.

I'll leave you with a small preview of what I'm hoping our new kitchen will look like (when in reality it probably won't turn out anything like this, other than having beige walls).

White cabinets, neutral walls, clean backsplash, silver accents.
Image found here.

Fingers crossed that we don't get divorced lose a finger in the process!

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Work in Progress

I realize that when God created me he left out two very important aspects - patience and tolerance. These are two qualities that I have been working on my entire life, but I have yet to grasp the ability to do either. The lack of these abilities often causes a good day to turn sour real quick. As in, I'm merrily going about my errands (after persuading the hubby to watch Tay so that I can do them in two hours rather than five) with my jam-packed To-Do list in hand and - BAM - out of nowhere I'm stuck behind a lady in the checkout line disputing a $0.10 off coupon. Really!? Here's a dime, please move it along. Or I just want to run into Sam's Club to pick up my three cans of formula and a box of diapers and the Direct TV guy stops me of all people and engages in conversation. Most people would just keep walking, but it deeply disturbs me to be rude to people (odd, I know). Rather, I politely listen to his sch-peal knowing all the while that I already have the service he's selling and, therefore, listening to him ramble on is nonesense, but I've been in sales before so I empathize with the guy. But still, after an afternoon full of these encounters, what little patience I did have is now gone.

So then I feel bad, and I try to put myself in that person's shoes: "That poor lady is probably skimping to get by and maybe she really did need that extra dime" or "He's just doing his job and trying to put food on the table for his family." But these justifications don't help to increase my level of patience or tolerance. It's like something is mis-wired in my brain, but I know that I am not alone. I cannot be the only person who feels this way after a day of running errands. Let's be honest, it's exhausting.

My suggestion is to allot certain portions of each store for different types of people. For example, I can be in and out of a grocery store in 10 minutes. I know what I need, I know where it's located, and I always have my credit card out and ready to go. Other people like to wander aimlessly through the store. They stand in the middle of the aisles (searching for what, I don't know) without any consideration that other people may actually want to go down that aisle as well. They shop at their leisure, without a care in the world and, frankly, I can't stand it. Dawdle all you want, but please get out of my way because I have shit to do.

Now, I know that a lot of people think that I am the way that I am because I have a child. But this is not the case. I have been like this my entire life (although adding one more person to buy/do crap for has definitely not helped the situation). Nonetheless, this is not something that can or should be blamed on my sweet, innocent babe. This hot mess is all me, and I'm fully aware of it.

And believe me, I'm working on it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

In Search of Home

For the past decade, I have felt like a wander, a drifter of sorts. I have moved from one crummy apartment to another for so many years that I have never really felt at home in this city. You see, I grew up in a small town where everyone knows everyone and your personal life is always on public display. My parents were high school sweethearts, both born and raised in this same small town, and, for as long as I can remember, we have lived in the same house. It isn't a big house or a fancy house, but it is cozy and warm and filled with a lot of love. It is the kind of home that you want to grow up in (but don't realize that until you are pushed out into the cold, hard world and realize that not all things in life are as inviting as the warmth of your home). My childhood consisted of spending the entire weekend riding bikes with my best friends, exploring the woods, and traveling anywhere within the city limits (as long as we were home by dark). Crime and violence didn't exist in that world, and I never once felt unsafe.

Fast forward to the fall of 2002 when I packed up what few belongings I had accumulated over the past 17 years, and I high tailed it to the "city". To clarify, I don't live in a giant city, but it is exponentially larger than the small town that I grew up in. So you can imagine the instant culture shock that I faced upon arrival. Slowly but surely I began making friends from all different backgrounds and, before long, I was beginning to feel like I was able to stand on my own two feet.

It wasn't until I left the safe confines of dorm life and moved into my first off-campus living quarters that I realized I was in over my head. I had never entered into a lease before or paid an electric bill. I didn't know that you had to arrange for people to pick up your trash or that cable didn't automatically come with a house. I was clueless. I was also quite pissed that I had spent 13+ years sitting in classrooms and not once did anyone mention these real world issues. Why isn't there a class in high school to inform you of these things? Or were these just things that everyone had to learn the hard way? Or maybe people did tell me these things and I was just too busy living in my plastic bubble to realize that one day I would actually need to know this information? Regardless, here I was trying to figure out how to live without my safety net. And although I had to make the choice between food or rent on many occasions (might I add you really can live on cereal and Ramen noodles for weeks at a time), I learned to manage my finances enough to get by. I also learned a very valuable lesson in roommate selection. Although some people may be super fun to party with, said people are almost always not good choices for roommates. I learned this valuable lesson upon arriving home one night to find the crazy that slept a mere 50 feet from me spray painting the walls, furniture, and anything else she could get her hands on. Time to move out - got it.

The second rental that I lived in was shared with two of my best friends and a friend of a friend. The friend's friend showed her crazy real quick, and we gave her the boot before the seasons changed. Enter first male roommate - a friend of ours who just so happened to need a place to live and, oddly enough, the person who introduced me to my now-husband. Our duplex quickly became party central, and we eventually ended up with squatters on both couches. I'm still not really sure how or when this occurred, but I came home one day and realized that between actual tenants, boyfriends, and squatters, there were nearly 10 people living in our house and the majority of those people did not appreciate cleanliness or have consideration for other people. This got old fast. Thankfully our lease ran out before we all killed each other, and I was off to find another place to live.

By now, I was entering my Senior year of college and was somewhat tiring of the party scene. I knew I needed to buckle down and start taking my education more seriously, so I decided to move into a small, 2 bedroom apartment with an acquaintance who was 4 years younger than me (that makes sense, right?). This actually worked out really well because roommate spent the majority of her time at her boyfriend's place, so Jake (my then-boyfriend and now-husband) and I were able to have the apartment to ourselves. This living situation was ideal for the most part. I went to class, studied, and graduated in the Spring. When the time came to renew the lease, roommate had other plans, so Jake and I decided it was probably time to just move in to a place together. With only a few short weeks to find a decent place that we could afford on my tips from waitressing and Jake's salary, we moved into a 2 bedroom duplex in what we thought was a nice, safe neighborhood. It turns out, we were wrong. Within weeks of moving in, there was a shooting down the street, and a couple weeks after that we found the SWAT team surrounding our next door neighbor's house. We managed to ride out the remainder of our lease, but we were quickly on the hunt for a safer place to live.

Next up was another 2 bedroom duplex a couple miles east. We ended up living in this rental for two years until our landlord left his wife and decided that he wanted to move into our duplex like yesterday. So, the hunt began again. We were tired of living in apartments and duplexes and were ready to live in a house that didn't have strangers living on the other side of the wall. By this time, Jake was making decent money and I had full time employment, so we signed a lease to a house owned by a couple of guys we knew. This 3 bedroom house allowed us to have a lot of friends over (and often). We put a giant TV and a pool table in the basement and settled in nicely.

The first year passed and upon the growth of the cat infestation in our backyard (crazy neighbor to the right had umpteen cats that bred nonstop and those cats eventually set up shop in our backyard), we contemplated buying a house of our own. However, a quick review of our financials determined that that dream would have to wait a while. Fortunately, we are the type of people that don't stop until we get what we want, so we began saving every penny and scouring houses online in search of a house to call our own. A few months later, a friend of mine informed me that her mom was putting her house on the market. I was intrigued but figured this property was entirely out of our budget. One day, my curiosity got the best of me and I picked up the phone to get the details. Five months later, we closed on the house and packed up our belongings one last time. After constantly moving for 10 years, we were finally going to be able to stay in one place and make it ours.

Two years have since passed, and we have done nothing short of knocking the house down and rebuilding it in order to make this house our home. However, it wasn't until we brought Taylor through the front door that it really felt like home. I've come to realize that it isn't about the paint color or the furniture, but it's the love of the people in a home that makes it warm and inviting. And while my parent's house will always be my home, it is especially heartwarming to be able to create a place in this world to call Taylor's home. And although there is more crime and violence to worry about in this city (and in the world today, in general), I just hope that she feels as secure and loved in this house as I did growing up in my home. That security still remains with me to this day and is a constant reminder that whenever things get rough, there will always be a place for me to seek refuge from the storm. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Baby's First Road Trip

Well folks, we are back from our mini vacation, and I am happy to report that traveling with a six month old was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated!  Our girl is a straight up ROCK STAR. She is one of those kids that immediately falls asleep once you put her in a moving vehicle. She slept five out of the seven hours each way, and the other two were spent babbling to herself and playing with Sophie the Giraffe.  (Seriously, if you do not own a Sophie of your own, you need to invest in one right. now. It is by far Taylor's favorite, must-have, can't-live-without toy!)

Halfway to Nashville, we made a pit stop in Metropolis, IL to see the "giant" Superman statue (spoiler alert: it's not as giant as one might think). Regardless, after being in the car for 4 hours, this seemed like a great excuse to get out and stretch. So, we snapped a few pics of Tay then hopped back in the car and continued on our merry little way.


She was more interested in people watching than taking pictures, a clear indication that she is indeed related to her father. 

A few hours later, we made it to Jake's brother's house and these two little cuties were reunited. They met for the first time last October when Lindy was 16 weeks old and Taylor was a mere 5 weeks old (where, oh where, has the time gone?!). It was so fun to see how much they have both grown!

They had a ball playing together. 

(Notice Sophie making another appearance.)

Unfortunately, it rained the majority of our trip, so we used the opportunity to do a lot of shopping (and Daddy used the opportunity to have a lot of snacks in the food court). Both girls were such good little shoppers, and special props to Tay for allowing me to constantly put bows and sunglasses on her pretty little face. She already has more patience that I do.

We even managed to get Taylor's picture taken with the Easter bunny in what can only be described as a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland. Have you ever seen such a colorful photo?! I was elated that we all actually matched and were able to get such a good family photo.  

Overall, we had a great time! The girls were able to play and the adults were able to spend some quality time together. And this momma was able to get away, relax, and unwind for a few rain-soaked days. All in all, I'd call that a success. 

Here's one last photo of us stretching our legs with a quick walk around the neighborhood after we returned home Sunday afternoon. This baby earned it. She giggled and squirmed all the way around the block!

 I hope you all had a great Spring Break as well. I'm already counting down the days till our next getaway...