Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

Christmas Day was a joyous one, filled with lots of family, love, gifts, and food. Matt's mom, AKA Grandma Doe, spent the night on Christmas Eve, as did my cousin Allie (who is a new Nashville transplant and nurse at Vandy-so proud!). It was so fun being surrounded by family and getting to stay up a little late and set up MR's gifts.

We found Molly in her nursery like this:

I think she was ready to see if Santa came. And, after a quick bottle and diaper change, we were ready to see if jolly Old Saint Nick stopped by our house...

And he certainly did!

Note: the bottle of Gentleman Jack behind the baby doll was one of daddy's gifts, not Molly's. Just to clarify.

Maybe I should have included a disclaimer at the beginning of this post that all pictures on Christmas morning would be sans makeup. Hope nobody is frightend too badly.

Christmas afternoon, Paul, Hilary, and brand new baby Mallie Kate arrived for a visit. It was the first time that Matt, Molly, and I got to meet little MK!

MR and MK, dubbed the M&Ms, are going to have so much fun together in the years ahead! I am so glad that they will get to grow up together and are only 9 months apart.

And last but certainly not least, we have some sweet pictures with the grandmas:

Now, who wants to come help us take down all of this Christmas stuff? I didn't think so, which is why our holiday decor will stay up just a few days longer until the New Year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holly Jolly Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all of our friends and family! We have certainly enjoyed spending time with family these past few days and I hope everyone else has as well.

It is so fun to see Christmas through the eyes of a child (even though MR doesn't really know what's going on yet). However, I already see how it can be easy to go a little overboard with gifts so I'd like to come up with some sort of "rule" for future Christmases pertaining to how many gifts Molly Ruth gets. I have heard of several that I think are on the right track...some people limit the number of gifts to three (because that's how many the Wise Men gave). Or, I have also seen a "rule" for gift giving that goes like this: something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read. I like that one too. If anyone out there has a successful rule or tradition along these lines I'd love to hear it...

On Christmas Eve, we drove to Columbia to visit with Matt's family. It was a beautifully crisp and sunny day.

MR was her usual jovial, gregarious self. She got some wonderful gifts...

And the Most Favorite Gift Award this year goes to Zach and Courtney for this Fisher Price Baby Grand Piano! Molly loved it and has not stopped playing with it and laughing at it since we got it. She bounces up and down and shakes her little booty while she composes new tunes...

It was nice to get to see loved ones...

And share in the joy of receiving treasures passed down from loved ones who are no longer with us...

We celebrated our first Christmas in our new home...

And revelled in the magic of the Christmas Spirit...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Newly Born

We all have those earth moving, heart stopping life moments in which our inner cores are somehow altered and we are forever changed. Whether it's a death, a birth, a loss, or a triumph, we've all been there in some capacity. Finding the words to describe those moments often seems pathetically impossible. And, for those of us who may attempt to describe these major moments, all words and descriptions seem dreadfully inadequate.

Becoming a parent is most definitely one of those moments for many people and so it struck me on a personal note when I stumbled upon something Jewel wrote recently about her newborn, Kase. If you already have children, are expecting, or simply enjoy great writing, then this is a lovely read I think you'll enjoy:

(Oh, and I threw in some pictures of Mollums when she was 9 weeks old for fun.)

Newly Born

Written by: Jewel

There is this new heart beating, and you created it. It did not exist before. The music that it makes is like a key that unlocks a door into another world. A world the newborn still smells of. It smells like undreamed architecture. Like dreams still waiting to be dreamt. Like what I imagine the fabric of new space must be made of, as it unfolds on the edges of our universe.

Newborns shine ethereally, stardust trailing from their bodies, sparkling fresh on their temples. Their skin is like a cooling star, freshly fallen from the sky. Their eyes stare far off, blurrily, as though they are looking for the pocket in time they came from. Or as though they can still see the angels and the face of their maker. In a word, a newborn is otherworldly. Half here, and half still in the watery space which so efficiently built bone and blood, but also housed the ultimate miracle - for somewhere along the process of cells multiplying and eyelashes sprouting, something breathed a soul into that vessel, and life was born, and music set to playing in that tiny music-box heart.

With each passing week the otherworldliness of the newborn wears off... The window into that magical realm from which they came gradually closes, and their eyes begin to stop seeing stars and focus on more earthly shapes instead. With baited breath you wait, until inexplicably their gaze lands upon you, and where before only unfocused eyes seemed to stumble across your form, a spark begins to ignite and like a butterfly that has miraculously chosen to land, you realize: he sees you.

Hours had been invested in this tiny, shiftless form with out his eyes ever really seeing you, but now with a tiny spark of recognition that ignites when he stumbles across your face, your heart bursts yet again. Your resolve doubles, were that possible, to care for this tiny creature and to protect him from any harm and to die for him if needed.

With each day, your baby wakes from a nap a little more firmly planted in this world. Stardust slowly traded for the lavender scent of freshly bathed skin. He seems not only to struggle less with the noise and bright harshness of our world, but even begins to enjoy it, as he nuzzles your bosom while nursing, cooing when he hears your voice. And that’s when you realize; your baby has not come so fully into this world, as he has transported you partially into his. That’s the gift.

They are newborn. But we are newly born.

Before, life was measured by a different stick. Hours were counted in wages, and worth was awarded only if man-made milestones were met. Fortune was counted in a series of zeros and ones on a screen that told you of the state of virtual wealth that lived online, counted by machines.

But now, looking down at your precious baby, you see a new treasure that shines so brightly it moves you to tears. Your tears bend light, swaddling that perfect baby in a watery halo as you stare deep into his eyes. He returns your gaze steadily, with fascination, looking deep into your soul, so as to know you better. And that’s when it happens. Slow as a sunbeam spreading its first ray across the darkest sky. Slow as the swampy blade of an old fan lazily ticking in the still breeze of a hot southern afternoon. Slow as trust earned, a first smile splits that angels face and were there ever any shadows in your heart, were there ever any doubts that haunted your soul, they are all banished, replaced in an instance with one missive: to be worthy of that smile. To never let it down.

As you soul-stare into each other’s eyes, and that innocent perfect baby unflinchingly studies your face, you know you are bound together. That it is your job to not only shepherd this child into adulthood, but to remind each other on life’s long dusty road, to keep one foot firmly planted in this world without losing touch with the bit of heaven brought with that newborn. Never letting go of that special place we all come from, but too soon forget.

This is the sweet gift of the newborn. May our ears never grow deaf to the music box of their tiny heart, and may its magic be a sweet perfume that informs our senses for all our days without ceasing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear..."

"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup."

"What's a Christmas Gram? I want one!"

"I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite."

All quotes are from Buddy the Elf. Who else?

Christmas is 6 days away. Yowza. It's strange how retailers start putting out the Christmas stuff before Halloween, yet it still manages to sneak up on you. This has felt like an extremely rushed Christmas season thanks to the Big Move, but we managed to get our tree up, send out Christmas cards, and put some lights out front. Next year, however, we want to Griswald it up (for Molly's sake, of course) so watch out all you after Christmas bargain shoppers...those leftover inflatable snowmen, mechanical deer, and strands of lights are ours!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Keeping myself in check

Some days I find myeslf complaining about things that, quite frankly, make me look like an ass. For instance, the microwave quit working last night and the repair guy can't come until tomorrow to fix it. This means a day and a half or so with no microwave. I have been exceedingly annoyed by the fact that I have to walk all the way downstairs to grandma's apartment (she has her own apartment downstairs) just to heat up my coffee or heat up Molly's oatmeal. What an inconvenience.

Oh, the icemaker in the fridge is also not working. Can you believe that? I'm having to drink my beverages with no ice! Major inconvenience.

And the light in the oven isn't working which means I have to open the darn thing just to see what I'm cooking. So terrible and awful.

After stewing about my misfortunes for half the morning, I suddenly realized how selfish and spoiled my "misfortunes" made me sound...

I am thankful I have the modern convenience of a microwave to use in the first place and that I only have to walk down a flight of stairs in the warmth and safety of my own home to use that same modern convenience when mine isn't working.

I am thankful I have clean, safe water to drink (even if it isn't ice cold at the moment). I don't have to drink dirty, contaminated water or walk miles and miles barefooted to a well or stream just to have something to drink.

And a light in the oven is a total luxury and I have no idea why I even let myself get irritated by that in the first place.

Do you have those little things that you let get under your skin and fester until they seem to infect your entire mind and attitude for the day? Well, it's time to keep yourself in check and look at the big picture. Many of us have an abundance of what we truly need and it is so important to be thankful for that on a daily basis. Next time you find yourself cursing under your breath at how unfortunate you are because you burned your Eggo or you can't get good Wifi/3G service or you had to wait in line at Starbucks, remember those who would love to have those "problems" as their biggest worry.

I promise to do the same.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Then and Now

My daily decisions as a working woman included things like: whether or not to cash a $10,000 check, whether or not to release a hold on someone's bank account, whether or not to let someone even open a bank account and how to increase sales, manage risk, and increase customer delight. On a rough day, I would have to sit and listen as someone yelled at me for fees that, most of the time, they had gotten because of their own negligence or ignorance.

Now, my most difficult decision of the day is what type of fruit to put in Molly's oatmeal. And that's pretty great. (Today she had prunes)

I'm really appreciating the fact that I'm getting to do these little things for Molly. I'm getting to be the one who wakes her each morning and tucks her in each night. I'm the first to know when she makes a new sound or face or hand movement (we're working on waving!). A few days after Thanksgiving, she pulled up all by herself and I was there to not only see it, but to take pictures too!

I'm so in tune with her and her needs that I often know what she needs even before she does, which has helped me build confidence in my mothering. And I wasn't one of these women who always knew she wanted to be a mom and "just knew" everything to do when the baby came. No, not me. I had some serious post partum anxiety/depression/fear and it has taken me time (and a little medication and a lot of support from friends and family) to feel confident in myself as a mother. But I am definitely getting there.

Let me note that it is not my intention to make any working mothers who may read this feel envious or bad about working. Being a mother is difficult and different for everyone, and it is best in many situations for mothers to work. I support all women in their journey to figure out what is best for them and their family. I didn't always know that I wanted to be a mom and I certainly never had any intentions of ever being a stay at home mom. And, if I'm being honest, I sort of turned my nose up at the idea of being a "homemaker." But, then I gave birth to a chubby baby who made me see things from a whoooole different perspective. And the path that I thought I had mapped out for myself suddenly changed direction.

It's funny, because as much as a baby changes who you are and who you thought you would be, Molly has almost brought my old self back to life, and helped me bring out the qualities in myself I liked that had become buried by deadlines, reports, and climbing a corporate ladder. Where I had almost become numb, I now am able to feel.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gobble gobble goo...

...and gobble gobble gickel. Well, Turkey Day has come and gone and my pants are a little bit tighter because of it. And so the holiday season AKA Project Try Not To Gain So Much Weight That I Could Actually Try Out For Biggest Loser begins.

Because I'm a certified SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) now, I feel some pressure to do those little crafty, domestic things that most normal (working) people can only read about but would never actually have time for. And while I do consider myself to be a creative person, I do not consider myself to be very domestic. Here are some domestic things I do know how to do:

-Use Windex

-Use vacuum

-Wash clothes

-Boil water

Here are some domestic things I do not know how to do:

-Iron (Ugh- and I do not intend to learn. The dry cleaners can take care of that. Besides, what the heck am I wearing these days that doesn't have elastic waistbands, much less needs ironing? Sad but halfway true.)

-Sew a button on. Or sew anything for that matter. This one I'd like to learn because I think it will come in handy.

-Cook. I can sometimes follow very simple recipes. Sometimes. (Said by the girl who burned a set of pop tarts not once but twice last week. Hey, it was the toaster's fault!)

-Anything in the yard/garden. My borderline albino skin and black thumb don't make anything outdoorsy very promising.

So, the fact that I have actual family Christmas cards stamped and ready to mail out makes me feel pretty accomplished. (Sorry if we know you and you don't get one. I had a gift card to Shutterfly and I refused to order more than what our gift card was for since we're down an income. Dang, who knew Christmas cards cold be so cut throat?)

And here's my big domestic accomplishment of the week: I made chocolate and peanut butter Chex party mix! Like, from scratch. Sure, you pros may be snickering at me, but that Chex party mix included melting something (I may or may not have burned the white chocolate chips while microwaving them), mixing something, and then putting stuff in containers. This people, is big.

So, let's get to some Turkey Time pictures, shall we?

Thanksgiving Day was so beautiful and sunny that we started off the morning lounging around in our pajamas in the sunroom.

One wardrobe change later...My baby's baby blues. Get me every time.

She is so curious and interested in everything.

Doe (Matt's mom) was able to join us for dinner. Molly Ruth sure does love her grandmas...(Bebe, if you're reading this, I just realized what few pictures we have of you and MR. So get ready for some picture takin'!)

Mother and daughter :)

We couldn't leave Molly out of the Thanksgiving goodness...Thanksgiving themed baby food!

And in the spirit of keepin' it know how lots of blogs seem to have perfect, crisp, professional looking pictures of every day things? Like table settings, for instance? Well, here was my attempt:

And that's my big fat shadow smack dab in the middle. Oh well. Would you believe I have a Canon Rebel and Photoshop? And I obviously don't know how to use either. Embarassing.

Last but not least is our one family shot of Molly's First Thanksgiving:

I hope everyone else had a nice Thanksgiving filled with an abundance of love, warmth, and your favorite fatty food.

PS. Virtual high five to the first person who can correctly identify where the first line of this blog is from.