September 26, 2012

Acorns

I took my boy for a walk today, in that kind of quiet, winding down part of the day, when dinner is almost ready, the sun has almost fully set, and the world around me seems to be settling into cozy homes for the evening. My footsteps crunched on the gravel and I breathed in the beauty of the farm around me, the leaves starting to change colors, the old farmhouse where Neil's grandmother lives on the horizon. My little bird settled down and fell into a deep, rhythmic sleep with each step I took, and for the first time all day I felt quietness and calm sweep over my body. My favorite part of that walk though, was hearing the acorns of the big oak trees that line the driveway fall through branches and land with soft cracks on the ground.

I was brought back to a memory of almost 20 years ago, when I was staying at my Grandmom and Poppy's house for a few days. I know that they had so many fun activities to do with me, and I remember it being a really special time, but I can't really remember specific details about that stay. Where was my sister? Why was just I staying there? How long was that visit? Where were my parents? But clear as day, I remember their beautiful backyard, with the hill that I would run down to the cool creek and dip my fingers in if I could reach far enough. I remember the swing made of rope and a wooden seat that hung from a branch so high up I always wondered how someone possibly could reach it to hang it. And I remember the acorns. It must have been right around this time of year, because the brown nuts littered the grass, the sweet patio that housed many a themed barbecue and birthday dinner, and the wooden deck off of the second floor of their split level house. One afternoon my grandmother gave me a task to do, something that made me feel very important in helping her. She told me that for every acorn I picked up off of the deck, she would give me a penny. I'm not sure if she knew how long this would keep me occupied, but I dutifully started, counting as I went, and picking up as many acorns one by one that I could manage before she called me in (hours later maybe?). I smile thinking about how she could have swept up the acorns, or sat me down in front of the tv to have me watch a movie, but she must have known how special it would make me feel to help her. I picked up 700 acorns and earned seven whole dollars that day.

I really am not sure why I loved that so much, but I found myself thinking today about my Grandmom (one of my favorite people in the world), and all of the 'little things' to adults that mean the world to children. As I remembered that today, listening to the acorns falling through the trees, and kicking them along the path with my toe, I got excited all over again about being a mama and inventing games and stories and tasks and dreams that I can share with my little boy.

September 18, 2012

"I'm a Mama!"

Back when we first brought little Emmett home from the hospital, my hubby said that I suddenly awoke him in the middle of the night one night with some strange noises. I was moaning and groaning and he quickly asked me what was wrong, thinking I was experiencing some type of pain. I eventually got out the words, "I'm a Maaamaaa!" I guess it hit me in the middle of the night that the baby was finally here and that I was now a mother, so much so that I spoke in my sleep and startled him half to death.

Today, my personal alarm clock (a hungry baby) woke me up at his usual time of 6:30. I fed him a bottle and then groggily poured myself a cup of coffee while my mother-in-law Charlotte held E, my husband packed his lunch for work, and my father-in-law ate his bowl of cereal. It was fun that the whole family was up and awake so early today, rather than feeling like I'm the only soul awake in the world during my nighttime and early morning feedings. We all were in the kitchen, enamored by my sweet little boy, who then cracked us all up as he left a huge mess on his grandmother's lap. So by 7am this morning I was giving E a bath (which he loves!), singing, and splashing, and soon toweling him off and laughing to myself about the way my day had started. I soon became wrapped up in my world of the past 12 weeks...

I have spent my day laying on  my tummy playing peek-a-boo with a grinning toothless boy. Watching Baby Einstein. Reading books with the big pictures and the mommy-made sound effects. Changing my clothes twice due to spit-up and other fun baby messes. Encouraging those babbles and squeals with kisses and smiles in return. Loving his laughter. My almost 3 month old is going through a phase where you need to talk to him/entertain him 24/7 unless he just so happens to be napping or content snuggling with Mr. Ducky. Today I had one of those moments where it hit me harder than usual, "I'm a Maaamaa!"

Mr. Ducky and Emmett
I find my simple joys in those smiles and giggles, but also in the quiet moments when Emmett is enthralled with his play mat or baby swing, when he is cooing to himself or sitting on my lap so that I get to read for a few minutes from my own book. I have loved getting to sit and warm my hands on a mug of apple cider and sneak little spoonfuls of nutella today. Listening to music that makes me happy. Taking Emmett for a walk out on the porch while we watch the autumn rain fall around us. And though the quiet moments (just for mama) are few and far between, and this is probably one of the hardest jobs I've ever had to do, I wouldn't trade this new life for the world.

September 12, 2012

New England in the Fall

These are my best friends from college. They are the kind of friends you can laugh with, cry with, pray with, show your heart to and know that you will be loved even in your darkest of days, and the kind of friends that you can pick up with where you left off with, no matter how long it has been since you last saw one another.

The girls
In our little apartment, Broms 309!
Smiles
If you were falling, then I would catch you...
Today, on this beautiful almost-autumn day, as I listen to the Weepies and have butternut squash soup cooking on the stove, I am feeling nostalgic for these friends and the wonderful time we had together in college, but especially for a particular fall day our senior year of college. It was a day that felt a lot like today, and we were packed into a car with the windows down, feeling the cool breeze and autumn air fill our hearts and spirits. We were driving down the winding roads of the North Shore, on our way back from a fun afternoon of apple picking listening to the Weepies (probably why this memory popped up today), and I remember feeling so FULL. I had just come out of one of my hardest seasons, a difficult break-up, healing from depression, and trying to look ahead and pick up the pieces. These girls saw me through it all, and I remember that day, that car ride, looking around at them and thinking about how thankful I was for them, and it was one of the first times I remembered feeling true, absolutely real joy and happiness in quite a while. I remember those bittersweet tears that filled my eyes and overflowed from my happy heart as I thanked the girls for being there for me no matter what.

On the lookout
Looking out again, at my wedding last year
We've now seen each other through graduation, exciting new jobs, two weddings, finding new dreams, several moves, heartbreaks, the first of us moving into a house, a new engagement, a sweet baby, starting graduate school, Skype dates, phone calls, letters, care packages, questions about faith and our futures, and connecting with one another despite the distance (we're now spread out in Massachusetts, Arizona, Minnesota and Virginia), but I still know that these sweet women are those forever kind of friends that I will continue to laugh with, cry with, pray with and show my heart to over the coming years. Thankful for this beautiful day to remind me of all we've been through and where we'll go from here :)

Love you, sweet friends


*Photos courtesy of Chelsea Wade, Christina Matthew (thanks facebook!), and Meredith Wilkinson's mama (thanks Mrs. Wilkinson!)

September 4, 2012

Out with the old, in with the autumn

As we walked out of our friends Trent and Natalie's apartment last night, Neil looked at me with a kind of sad look in his eyes and said, 'I can't believe summer is really over.' Our Labor Day weekend definitely was a great way to send summer off and welcome autumn with open arms:

-We took a road trip with Trent and Natalie (and baby Emmett!) to Bath County, Virginia, home of the Homestead resort and these famous warm mineral springs. The guys took their turn soaking for the first hour (fun fact: the Gentlemen's Pool House is the oldest spa structure in the United States), while Nat and I had a good ole' time playing checkers, chatting and hanging out with E in a coffee shop. Then Natalie and I got to float around and relax in the ladies' bath house until it was time to head back to Roanoke. We've been planning this outing for a really long time and it felt wonderful to finally go, and it was nice that Emmett was pretty up for the trip too!

The inside of the bath houses Credit: Bob Brown/Times-Dispatch
View of the ladies' bath house
Feels like fall
Tied
-We indulged in Chinese food last night after a 10 month hiatus (for me). One word. YUM.
-I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season

-This weekend, we packed up the newborn clothes and heard Emmett say 'mama' for the first time. Even though I know he has no idea what that means yet, realizing our little boy is already growing up and making audible sounds other than crying is something to get excited about. While in the aforementioned cafe in Bath County, the woman in front of us in line couldn't stop staring at my little boy and giving me a knowing mama look. She said to me, 'I remember those days. Now mine is 23!' We chatted for a few more minutes, and as she was leaving she said, 'Just you wait, you'll blink and YOUR baby will be 23.' Oh my gosh, it's already going way too fast! So, bye bye, itsy bitsies!! Your first summer of clothing a little boy's bottom is ova! (I have to joke about it or else i'll cry, haha).

The No-Longer-Newborn Mr. Emmett

So, with the new season, my hubby and I are looking to make a few changes and we're excited to kick off the new routine today (we said we'd wait til after Labor Day). I know a lot of people think about getting in shape or taking better care of themselves when they think of summer, but let's just say we didn't have time to think about beach bods or vacationing over the past few months. Now that E's sleeping better, Neil has a more steady schedule (we have evenings together), and because we know that we need to change some of the habits that we picked up while we've been in survival mode these past few months, we're ready to get serious about taking better care of ourselves. We're committing to:
  • making MUCH healthier choices with what we eat (especially being intentional about planning out meals/packing ahead of time instead of picking things up on the go or eating what we're craving just because it's there)
  • drinking more water
  • exercising together (walking or doing the 30-day shred by Gillian Michael, plus ballet for me).
The thing I think I'M most excited about is delving into the world of green smoothies. Kale or spinach in my smoothie? My gut reaction used to be, no thank you, I'll keep my fruit and veggies separate. I've never felt adventurous or serious enough to go there before. For some reason, I always thought green smoothies sounded super crunchy or for health-junkies only (which I am not). But, I've been doing a lot of reading about them over the past few days, and it sounds like they are SO jam-packed with nutrients, a great way to start your day, and actually pretty delicious if you get the combo down right. Neil's a little apprehensive and says he'll try ONE. I have one green smoothie to win him over with (and myself too, I guess, since this will be my first!). So if anyone has any good green smoothie recipes (Claire Bret? Natalie? Char?), or any other great healthy recipe suggestions (Lily? Mom? anyone!?), feel free to share below so others can salivate over your healthy suggestions! I can use your help getting creative :)

Also, I'd love to hear-- what are you saying goodbye to from your summer, and welcoming in with the fall?

Love and pumpkin spices, 
Mama Bird

September 1, 2012

Some days...

There are some days where I have grand ambitions to make head-way on a never-ending to-do list. I want to deep clean our apartment that is literally accumulating cobwebs (it's not as gross as it sounds- we live in a basement apartment and it just requires frequent cleaning). That stack of thank you cards that has yet to be written has been haunting me for months. My husband and I need to work on a new budget with his new pay, and we have bills that need to be taken care of for when Emmett was born. I want to bake/cook/craft/watch a movie/call my sister/write back to friends that have sent me sweet emails and facebook messages weeks ago (ugh! I'm sorry friends). I'd love to spend my Saturday afternoon writing and taking pictures.

But Emmett is teething. It has irritated his reflux and we've had such a rough time for the past two days. His tummy is hurting, his crying is incessant, and we just want to sleep. I think to myself about the million and one things I'd love to be doing, but then, I remember, as 'hard' as this day is there are so many things that are still so good about where we find ourselves right now.
  • This fussiness is nowhere near as bad as it was for the first 6 weeks of E's life. Every week it's been getting better, and we're seeing more and more of his personality shining through. 
  • A new job for my husband that makes him HAPPY and is going to pull us back to financial stability. Hooray!
  • Seeing God's provision and protection this week in so many ways
  • A healthy report at Emmett's two month check-up. Our growing boy is 12 lbs, 12 oz (75th percentile for weight) and 24 inches long (85th percentile for height). I think it's safe to say that he's going to be a tall one!
  • It's September, and I love autumn.
  • My hubby now has weekends off. Despite the fact that we're not getting everything done that we'd like to today, it is just so nice to have a full Saturday together for the first time in three or four months. 
  • Having to sit still with my little family is not the worst thing in the world (at all!). If all I do today is hold my child, and smile at my husband as we try our best to soothe Emmett's cries, and feed him, and change his little bottom, I'm doing my job, and I'm giving him the love that he needs. We're doing alright :)
Some happy pictures of our sweet boy from this week...







Happy Saturday, dear ones. I hope your September is off to a good start, and that this post reminds to remember how blessed you are, even on the toughest of days :)