Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Six Days

The past six days have been somewhat of a blur to me. Aaron was told last Monday that he would be going out of town Thursday. Thursday was the day that my parents were flying in and they were staying with my sister. My sister was sick and needed help picking my parents up from the airport so Grace and I made the decision to go up and stay with my sister for the weekend rather than kickin' it in an empty apartment and driving back and forth.

It doesn't matter whether you're 20 miles from home or 2,000 miles from home, when you're gone, you're gone and my brain took up a permanent residence in vacation mode.
It felt like one big sleepover, which was pretty rad. We made cookies and stayed up late, watched movies, chatted, and then woke up and ate cookies for breakfast. Maybe that last part was just me.
I'm telling you, we party hard.
Cade's cousin was in town and was staying with us for the weekend as well. This only increased the awesome-sauce sleepover feeling. At one point we had 7 adults and 4 kids in the house.
Landon and Grace are a few months apart. We subjected them to lots of kisses. What is it about little ones kissing that is so incredibly adorable? "Gracie give Landon some kisses."
I'm not sure how Landon felt about the situation.
The following group pictures were taken "Texas Style" sitting in the bed of Scott's truck. I'm just sad we didn't have cowboy hats and guns to hold. Maybe next time.

Aaron flew home that Sunday and joined us for dinner, although he missed "Texas Style" picture taking (I know he is super torn up about that...).

Then Monday rolled around. You know how you go out of town and forget that you have responsibilities and things to take care of? Yeah, I definitely pushed those aside. Monday was a rude awakening. I wrote many an email starting with, "I'm sorry things have been crazy." I also made the mistake of taking Tylenol PM last night to stop my brain from going a thousand miles a minute and now it feels like my brain neurons are traveling through molasses.

Let's not end on a sour note, eh? Guess what is back.... They are just half piggies, but they are there and I'm in love. Grace requested to take a picture with her "doggie." Don't see it? It's the tiny blue speck in the picture. Do I dare mention that I may or may not be obsessed with the bow in her hair? I takes every fiber of my being to not buy out everything in Avery's Bows etsy shop (seriously).
(And yes, in case you were wondering, those are pink Toms--courtesy of the incredible Jillian Coons)

Happy Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I feel like I'm being "punk'd," do you see Ashton Kutcher anywhere? Or maybe it's Martha Stewart. Come out from behind that curtain Martha, I know it was you! Martha? No? What is going on. I feel like there has been a big secret that I have stumbled upon and I'm trying to figure out why I never knew this before. Are you confused? Let me give you some background.

A month or so ago I was doing a rapid fire cleaning of my apartment because someone was coming over. I had vacuumed and noticed that there was a gray-ish stain right in the middle of our carpet. I was out of resolve and there wasn't enough time to run to the store. It was about the size of the palm of my hand and couldn't be ignored. I went to the internet to see if I could find an at home solution for a quick fix. One post read "Mix one tablespoon of vinegar with 10 tablespoons of water, wet the stained area, rub with a rag." I had vinegar on hand and got to it. Let's just say that my hopes were low but it was better than nothing. It worked! And it worked really well. You couldn't even tell that the stain had been there. I was shocked.

When I started potty training Grace I decided to use my vinegar mixture, instead of buying resolve, for her accidents. I doubled the recipe and put it in a spray bottle I had on hand. It worked beautifully. On one unfortunate occasion, Grace was sitting at the table and had an accident. Our chairs are microfiber and despite my best cleaning efforts, there were many other stains on them. I thought to myself "I'll do my best to clean up the mess and then I should really re-cover these chair seats." With vinegar water I scrubbed the whole seat. As it dried I noticed that the mixture not only cleaned Grace's mess, but it cleared up all the other stains on the seat. I was floored.

I decided to put it to the ultimate test. I would clean my entire apartment, top to bottom with the mixture. Spray bottle and rag in hand.

It cleaned:

-Tile floor
-Metal fixtures
-Stove top (cuts through grease really well)

Not only did it clean everything in my apartment, but it did a better job cleaning than any other product I have ever used. Why did I never know about this before? Why didn't anyone tell me that I could buy a bottle of vinegar and a $1 Spray bottle from Target and clean my house for an entire year? 

Who knew that 1Tbsp of Vinegar and 10 Tbsp of water could work such magic. I'm converted.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Just Love Her

Does this picture make you smile?
It makes me smile. Grace is a crack up, pulled this face all on her own. I can't tell you how many times I've found my way into iPhoto just to look at. She kills me.

She is a good kid, a really really good kid. I'm just sad that it took me 18 months to realize all of the difficulties of parenting came from me being crazy-sauce. I had a mold and an idea about what parenting was like. As if it was 95% nurture, and 5% nature. I felt like the responsibility of making Grace into a good person rested solely on my shoulders. I pushed and shoved and tried to fit Grace into that mold. She pushed back and refused to be shoved in. I would get frustrated. It wasn't going the way I wanted it to go. In my desperate attempt to make my child great I was finding myself angry and stressed and overwhelmed.

One day, about 7 months ago, Grace was throwing one of the biggest temper tantrums I had ever witnessed. The thought came to me, "Just love her." And as odd as it may seem, in that wildly chaotic moment, I fell in love with Grace. I had always loved her, but in that moment it became deeper and stronger. Everyday I would get on my knees and pray that I would put my philosophies aside and "just love her."

Recent events have allowed me the opportunity to focus solely on Grace. Aaron and I started trying for another baby about nine months ago. With each passing month and each negative pregnancy test, I felt myself struggling. I had doubts and fears, I felt ashamed and scared, I felt incapable. I found myself on my knees a lot. During those months I continuously had to remind myself to live in the here and now. Everyday I became more grateful for Grace. When I just loved her, I saw her for who she was, and she was incredible. Last month when I realized my period was starting, yet again, I felt a hole. It hit me harder that time than any other time in the past. I walked into my living room and fell on my knees and cried. My shoulders shook as the tears fell. Grace walked across the room and looked at me. I knew that she had never been taught how to console someone and through my tears I wondered what she would do. Would she know what to do? She leaned over to meet my eyes and asked "Okay, Momma?" and I said, "I'm okay, just sad." She paused for a moment then turned and sat on my lap. I cried harder and wrapped my arms around her. Holding her in my arms filled that void I had felt moments earlier. I was so grateful to her in that moment for knowing exactly what I needed, even when I didn't know. I felt guilty for trying to fit her into a mold when the one she came in was better than the one I thought she needed.

And I just love her to pieces. Everyday is better than the next. Everyday I realize how lucky I am to have her. While I'd love it if everything went my way, I'm realizing that without these past nine months I might not have seen what was right in front of my face. A tiny little girl with a plan all her own. A little girl that is mine and that loves me. It's no wonder her name is Grace.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In Training

There are DVDs scattered across the entertainment center. Finding Nemo, the Emperor's New Groove, Shrek 2, Princess Movie Collection. One of them is always playing. There are books, and toys, stuffed animals, baby dolls, salty snacks and sippies filled with every type of drinkable liquid strewn about the living room. The most important item? The green frog potty. We are in training, potty training.
To be completely honest, I have been dreading this day for a long long time. Grace was ready for it months ago but I couldn't stomach the reality of actually doing it. There was always something going on, or some place I needed to be which conveniently "prevented" me from starting the process. After 5, yes 5, diaper removal, #2-smeared-everywhere incidents, I was done with diapers, and so was she. My schedule was blank for the next two weeks and I decided to bite the bullet.

Day 1 was full of accidents but in the end it was bizarrely successful. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the good luck continues. There is no looking back. Diaper free or bust. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Grandee and Papa

Aaron's parents flew into Dallas on the 1st to visit us and help Gracie celebrate her birthday. We were pretty freakin excited. They told me that they would be flying into Dallas at 4:30pm, but they were renting a car and needed to check into their hotel so therefore we would probably meet up around dinner time.

I decided that it would be fun if Grace and I met them at the baggage claim to surprise them. I made a few signs for Grace to hold, and we got their flight information the night before so we were ready. I got out the door a few minutes late, and their flight landed a few minutes early. Aaron called them sneakily to see if they had checked bags or not. They had, I was good to go. I drove to the right place and as soon as I parked my car Aaron called. "They are at baggage claim A29." Me: "What? The information we got last night said it was C12." Aaron: "They changed it, did you not check before you left?" I gritted my teeth, put my car in reverse and peeled out. I got to the A baggage claims just a a huge group of people left. I looked around. No Grandee and Papa. 
I called Aaron's Mom, "Hey where are you guys?" "We just got to the car rental place." "Oh, really?" Grace and I are at the baggage claim, we came to surprise you."
I didn't give up. We headed back to the car with our signs and piled back in. I thought to myself "I can totally make it to the car rental place and we'll surprise them there." After a 20 minute drive I finally finally got to it. DFW is a ginormous airport. I called again "Hey did you rent your car yet?" "Yes, we're now on our way to the hotel." Dang it, I missed them AGAIN.

With my defeated attitude I made my way back through the airport and out onto the main road. Construction pushed all the traffic down to one lane and my gas light was on and had been on for awhile. I needed to make it to a gas station and fast. Through some miracle I made it to Costco. As I was filling up my tank, Aaron's Dad called, "Hey we've checked into the hotel." Me: "Oh, I'm getting gas right now, I can see a bunch of hotels from here, which one are you in?" He gave me the crossroads for his hotel. I couldn't see the specific one they were in, but I thought, "Now, I can drive to their hotel and surprise them in the lobby." I told Aaron's Dad that I would call them when I was done. With a full tank I headed to their hotel. It was close and easy to find. My bad attitude faded and I was giddy as Grace and I made our way to the lobby of the hotel. I sent a text to Aaron's Mom, "We're in the lobby!" I made sure that Grace was holding her signs. I couldn't wait to see the looks on their faces when they walked in and saw us there. Aaron's mom called, "Hey sweetie, which complex are you in?" I told her. "Okay, we'll be there soon." Me: "Wait, I'm in the lobby of your hotel." Her: "You are? We're on our way to your apartment!" For the third an final time Grace and I got back into the car, having not surprised anyone and drove back to our apartment. We arrived they same time that Aaron's parents did too.

The whole situation was a 2 hour epic failure. Despite their trip starting off in an epic failure way, we had a fabulous time together. We celebrated Grace's birthday in style, as documented below, and the next day we headed to the zoo.

We got there early in the morning, but it's Texas and it's hot outside, so we took lots of breaks to sit in the shade.
 Once we were all good and sweaty, we headed back home.
Grace wearing her birthday outfit from Grandee and Papa.
There were many trips to the park, breakfasts at Chick-Fil-A, dinners out, naps in the afternoons, card games at night, and rides on the carousel.

 We had so much fun and already miss having Grandee and Papa here.
Thanks for a wonderful time. Visit again soon!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Her Day in Pictures

 Blowing up balloons during the wee hours of the morn, totally worth it.
 Opening up her first present of the day from her Mema.
 Birthday dress!
 Lunch at Chick-Fil-A with Grandee and Papa.
 Eating her favorite treat of all time. Ice cream, or as she says it: s'cream.
 Tasting the sweet nectar for the first time. Sister is a Barnard, through and through.
 Birthday dinner with free molten lava cake. Her mother was very pleased with this.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a very special birthday, Grace turned two today!" The singing and clapping was ridiculously loud, louder than I have ever experienced. I thought Grace would burst into tears at any moment. Despite being startled out of her mind when they started clapping/singing, she held it together really well.

Final verdict on the cake: Meh. Sister friend is not a cake person. Give her ice cream and she is set, give her cake and she doesn't care. No smashing this year, one bite with a fork was good enough for her.

Her 2nd birthday was a success.

Friday, September 2, 2011

For the Birthday Girl

My life has changed quite a bit. I remember staying up late to cram for a test or to put a project together at the last minute, because procrastination is how I roll. In college I would push the limits whether it was staying up just because we could or pulling all-nighters to write a journal for a class I should have been writing one for the entire semester.

Tonight I stayed up late blowing up balloons, wrapping presents, and baking a cake for Gracie's birthday. As in I started the cake at 11:00pm, put on a movie, and now its 3:50 in the morning. Procrastination is alive and well with me. I know she won't remember any of the things that I put together, but I wanted it to be special. I know her eyes will light up when she sees a room full of balloons that she can kick around. She'll have fun tearing the paper off of her gifts and making a mess. I hope she eats her cake this year, instead of crying, and digs her fingers deep into the frosting. I want her to celebrate, have fun, and be happy on this day. Because this day two years ago was a big day for me and I want her to know how grateful I am.

She has made me a better person. As a parent I am definitely flawed. My methods change, my consistency isn't top notch, I'm forgetful, and I get flustered. But she loves me still. She loves me at my weakest moments and the times when I want to give up. She loves me when I'm sad, when I'm happy, and when I just don't have the time. She is resilient and understanding, and forgives me instantaneously. And despite seeing me minutes earlier she will hold my face in her hands and say "I missed you Mama."

I thought I knew what life had in store for me on that first day that I held her. I thought I knew how it would work and what our relationship would be like. I thought I had it all figured out. I didn't, I had no idea. It's been harder, and better, and more rewarding. I've felt a range of emotions that I never knew existed, and I've loved harder and felt it deep in the fibers of my being more than I ever thought possible. A part of my soul lives in that little body of hers and it will always be there.

These two years are just the beginning.

Happy 2nd Birthday Grace.