The best (summer) day I ever had

Pinetop
pinetop
Pinetop
During our week long vacation in Pinetop, Kelsey and I were out shopping at Eddie’s Country store (here). Directly across the street from Eddie’s is a popular steakhouse called, Charlie Clark’s. Someone once told me that Charlie Clark’s offers live music in their orchard and that we should try to go. So, I called them up. I was certain live music was only on offered on the weekends but to my surprise they do live music in the orchard on Wednesdays too. Perfect!

After the kids took their naps we loaded them up and drove down to Charlie Clark’s orchard (it’s right behind their restaurant). We found a small little table and sat down. I already knew this was going to be a fabulous night from the look of the place – old signage, rustic tables and chairs, a dance floor (I mean, come on!), country music, twinkle lights, perfect weather and huge trees all around.

There was this large grass area for the kids to run around in (and any parent knows waiting for your food to arrive is always a gamble so to be able to let your kids run around and play while you talk to your husband … well, that’s a dining out dream). Kelsey brought her baby doll and, together with Colton, they played “keep away” from one another. I got that on video, so I’ll have to share it with you. Seeing them play so well together was music to my ears. The table we were sitting at was off to the side and had a little itty bitty sign on it that said “no bar or food service”. But our waitress clearly saw that we were there to stay and served us anyway – score!

pinetop

pinetop

As the drinks started coming, the sun started to set and the musician started to play. It really was the perfect evening. Kelsey wanted to dance so she grabbed Ryan’s hand and led him to the dance floor. Then we all joined in; which wasn’t as embarrassing as it sounds, it was actually pretty special. When the musician asked the audience what they would like to hear next, Kelsey leaned over to me and said, “Mom, do you think he knows Let it Go.” I couldn’t help but laugh. We decided to ask … so, we put money in his tip jar, walked up to him and asked if he knew anything from the Frozen soundtrack (for the record, he doesn’t).

pinetop

Pinetop
Pinetop

Then, Kelsey did something that really took me back. She found all of these green fruits (we’ll call them that because I have no clue what they were) and started collecting them. In a matter of seconds, Colton wanted in on the fun – only he started to eat the green fruits, which started to make her upset … so I needed to come up with a way to keep the peace. I had an idea. Kelsey and I would find a secret, secret hiding spot for our fruit so Colton couldn’t get them.

She thought I was the smartest person ever, so off we went to collect these green things. Then, it hit me. I had this blast from the past moment where I had done this before. Did I do this when I was little? Had I played this exact game before? I can’t remember much but I do remember being at a family reunion with my family, under large green trees, playing keep away with my cousins. The sun was setting, just like this evening was, and we were all running around giggling. That’s about as much as I recall but in this moment that rush and euphoric feeling of being with my family and being a kid came over me.

I looked up and realized that parenting is much more than being in the present. It’s about letting your inner kid come out and allowing yourself to relive the past. In that moment, I remembered my childhood so vividly .. and there I was playing this game of hide and seek and really influencing Kelsey’s childhood in such a positive way. Oh, I hope she remembers this moment forever. Or at the very least, when she is in her thirties and her children are running around laughing, playing, and having fun that it transports her back to a moment like this. A moment where mom was the smartest person in the world, dad was the strongest and her brother was the coolest.

pinetop
pinetop

pinetop
Pinetop
pinetop
If that wasn’t enough, the check presenters were mousetraps. I mean … that’s just darn cute. The next time you find yourself in Pinetop, Arizona, check out Charlie Clark’s for live music, dinner, and a really good time.

charlie clarks

 

Why are boys so loud!

I mean it. Why are they? At 19 months, Colton can say, “NO!” and “I don’t want it!” but he can’t say, “I love you” or “Thank you for all you do for me, mom” … what gives? And why is he fighting with his sister over everything. Why does he want what she has, all of the time. It’s a princess doll, kid! You don’t want it. Trust me.

And why do they scream all of the time. It’s like, I am 2 feet away, I can hear him loud and clear, he doesn’t have to shout! And they have no fear. What’s up with that? Why do they jump down stairs and climb up rocks and stand on tree stumps only to come crashing down. I swear Colton has a bruise or a bump on every part of his body. Even his ear. True story, his ear has a bruise on it.

It’s insane how much energy a toddler boy has. All of the time. Ryan and I are just starting to see what every mom of boys has told us for years. Boys are loud. Messy. And they run around all of the time.

Oh, but when their energy fades or when your son gets a glimpse of his mommy after school, he suddenly turns into a snuggle bunny. And even if the cuddles only last for a few minutes, these little boys of ours transform from little hyper people to charming, sweet, soft, cuddly baby boys.

I get it. I get the connection between a mom and her son. It’s real. It’s genuine and it’s unlike anything I have ever felt before. Colton seriously melts my heart. And he loves me so much. Oh, he does. He kisses me and cuddles and snuggles and wants to be on my lap (Kelsey is miss independent and her mantra is, “Mom, I can do it myself. Mom, you’re suffocating me. Mom!”) I love her so. So. So. So much it hurts.

But this boy of mine tugs at a different heart string. He’s my son. He’s my little buddy and he is … the loudest person that I know.

Colton

Splashing around is serious business

It’s hoooooooooooot around here. Sorry, but this is the first post of many where all I do is complain about the miserable heat. My apologies in advance. Thus, we live in our pool in the summer. This was Colton’s first time in the water since being an itty bitty baby. (My kids take this swimming thing very seriously – as you can tell by the look on their faces.)

See Colton down there? He hated the water at first. I mean, screamed-at-the-top-of-his-lungs-hated. See those massive floaties? Don’t judge. It’s possible that he loves the water and hates his floaties. Time will tell.

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Shots & Shark Bites

I took a personal day from work so I would be with Kelsey all day. We had a 9:45am doctor’s appointment (her 4 year well visit). Translation: the day she had to get 4 shots. It sucks too because she is so aware now. We were preparing her for weeks.

We played doctor at home and told her that shots just make “a little pinch” and then it’s all over. I even planned the entire day out – after shots we would meet Grandpa for pizza and then we would go see the movie, Frozen. I brought Tylenol to the doctor’s office and a little ice pack to ease the pain.

She did great. She sat on my lap and took her shots like a champ. Her little eyes got so teary eyed and she cried a bit. But after an hour or so, she was good as new. After her shots, I looked at her and said, “Does it hurt, baby? What does it feel like?” To which she replied, “A shark bite. It hurts like a shark bite.” If that wasn’t cute enough she then said, “Mom, I never want shots again. Not for many years. Never.” I had to promise her that she wouldn’t get any more.

She gets more at 5 years, right? I hope her little memory fades her. She’s upstairs sleeping now. Bless that little girl. These two kids are my world and I hate seeing them sad. But thank goodness for extra mommy hugs and a little Häagen-Dazs ice cream to ease any pain.

photo

Four years ago I became a mom

It was February 8, 2010. Ryan had just finished putting the car seat in. The house was extremely calm and quiet. As if everyone and everything around us knew something was about to happen. We climbed into bed and shut our eyes, it was the last time we would go to bed, just the two of us.

The phone rang at 4am. It was the nurse. She said, “Is this Stephanie? Are you ready?” I knew exactly what she meant. I perked up from bed and excitedly yelled, “We’ll be right there.” We were getting an induction that morning, February 9, because Kelsey was averaging over 9lbs and it was her due date.

I hurried up and ate oatmeal (a decision I would later regret), jumped in the shower to wash off, grabbed our suitcases and we hit the road. We were on our way to the hospital, and it was so dark outside. I can’t even remember if we listed to the radio. We were so excited and so scared. I remember being over the moon that I was about to meet my daughter, but terrified at the same time because I had no clue how to be a parent.

We arrived at the hospital and immediately went into Triage. It was 5am when we got there and we weren’t ‘seen’ until 7am. I remember laying in the hospital Triage room, watching the Today show when the nurse came in and gave me an IV. No one can ever find my veins so they had to prick me like 5 times. Then, I turned to my right and threw up on Ryan.

A little after 7am, we were wheeled into our delivery room. This was the moment we had waited for. Shift changes at 7am and 7pm, so we got a new nurse. This one would stay with us the entire delivery. She was not nice. In fact, I remember her being cold and matter of fact. She didn’t get my humor, but that’s okay. I wasn’t there for her.

A lot happened in between. The Pitocin. Drip. Drip. Drip. The nurse broke my water, then I got a catheter in, then I got the epidural (yes, in that order). Pain. Pain. More pain. The contractions were intense. I remember my mom by my bedside trying to keep me calm. Ryan was there too (I think he was just about as scared as I was) but I remember him being right by my side the entire time.

The epidural felt like someone hitting your funny bone … in your back (I would later have the complete opposite experience with my son, no pain whatsoever there). I was laser focused on the machine to my right. It was monitoring my contractions, but more important it was monitoring Kelsey’s heart beat. I listed to it very carefully. I heard every beat. My mom had a daughter before me who didn’t make it. I was terrified this would happen to me.

I just listened. Thump. Thump. Thump. Good, she’s still with me. If anything had happened to her, in this moment, I would have lost my mind. God had a plan for us. And it involved meeting a healthy girl in just a few short hours. The epidural was heaven sent. I felt one contraction after that, and that was it. Pain free.

My doctor arrived in a leopard dress skirt and top. She looked like she walked out of a St. John catalogue. Which is what I loved most about her. She’s fashionable. Amazing at her craft and really put me at ease. “Let’s have this baby,” she pronounced. And just like that, my mother and mother in law scooted outside to the waiting area and it was just Ryan, me, our doctor and the nurses. It was go time.

They put an oxygen mask on me. I remember thinking it smelled like a spray tan. You know the way that solution smells? That was it. My doctor asked me if I wanted to a mirror to watch. TO WHAT? NO. THANK. YOU. I said something along those lines, and then we started pushing. And pushing. For about 45 minutes (Colton would later come out in 15 minutes. Boys are much easier from the beginning).

I remember knowing when “it was it”. I looked at Ryan, then looked at my doctor and said, “This is it.” Sure enough, Kelsey came out right after I said that. She was crying, of course. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. Life. That’s what it sounded like. Everything after that was a huge emotional blur. I heard her crying, saw her beautiful blue eyes, rubbed her cheek and never took my eyes off of her.

Ryan stole her first kiss. I really wanted that, but he just swooped in. He couldn’t help himself. We both couldn’t, our eyes never left her face. We went back to our room where I devoured graham crackers, peanut butter and a giant éclair. We settled into our room, where we would stay for the next 48 hours. We listened to music, stayed up all night, laughed, cried and somehow learned what to do.

Every day since has been a blessing. Kelsey has blossomed into the world’s sweetest girl. Do you know something? My dad always said to me, “You’ll always be my little girl.” And I get it now. I really get it. Because no matter how big she gets, how mature she becomes or how much distance is every between us, she will always be my little girl. That little 9 lb girl who blessed our life on February 9, 2010.

Happy birthday, sweetheart. Mommy and daddy love you so much!! Nanni took this picture of you and I when you were 24 hours old. You were in this hospital crib, which sat next to my bed. Dad had to sleep on the hospital couch while you and I got beds. You never left our side the entire time, and you know what – we will never leave yours. Ever.

love - Mommy

newborn Kelsey

Things strangers say when you’re pregnant

I’m not pregnant now. But, I was. Twice. I gained a lot of weight (50 lbs with my daughter, 40 lbs with my son). That was fun. I was sick for 16 weeks with Kelsey and 21 weeks with Colton. I looked like a house and felt miserable.

I was hopeful strangers would spare me the obvious – and instead of make comments, just let me pass by in peace. Here are some of my favorite things strangers said to me. And yes, these were all said. Promise.

Is this your first one?

That’s not too harmful. But it was my first one. And 9 times out of 10 the question that follows is: Do you know if it’s a boy or girl? At that point the conversation ends. It’s unusual because I just told a stranger the sex of my first unborn child (see: personal) and then I just walk away, never to speak to this person again.

When are you due?

This is always weird. This happened at the deli counter while I was buying meat. I told the guy that I was due in February (it was October) to which he proceeded with:

Are you sure it’s not twins?

Translation: You really have 4 more months to go lady. Here, double up on the meat. You need it. I find this comment totally insulting and no offense guys, but I got this comment with each pregnancy and each time it was a man who asked it.

They are easier in than out.

This is true. Oh, so true. But when you’re pregnant you want nothing more than to get that baby out because you can’t eat, sleep, breath! The baby literally takes over and your left walking around like a beached whale to which strangers remind you of every chance they get. See the question above.

Who’s your doctor?

Really, lady? I got this question from a lady who was walking next to me in the parking lot of PetSmart. I was buying dog food and she kindly helped me lift the bag into my car. Then, turned to me and asked. Who’s your doctor? Excuse me? Yes, I have a great doctor in Scottsdale if you’re interested. This was the weirdest comment yet because – while nice of her to offer – I’m pretty sure by 7 months along I have picked out a Gynecologist.

How long have you been married?

Then they start doing math in their heads. I sit in silence for a second, then jump in … we got pregnant a year after we were married. Ohhh … they said. Then, they smile. As if I have their stamp of approval. I got this question twice. Both times from other women.

Were you trying?

Was I trying to ….? Oh, have a baby. Yes, yes my husband and I were trying to have a baby. This was a planned pregnancy. Thank you for asking, person I don’t know.

Are you going to have a natural birth?

It’s other moms who ask this. Other moms who want to tell you about their labor story and their plans. It wouldn’t be terrible to ask, ya know – mom to mom – only, I wish I knew the person. But stranger moms asked this and I vowed never, never, never to ask someone this. I don’t care how many minutes ago we met.

How are you feeling?

This one I liked. Finally … someone who actually cares about how I’m feeling. Cares that I have shooting pains down my leg at night. Cares that I have been on Zofran for 21 weeks so I don’t vomit at work. Cares that I can’t fit into my seat at the movie theater. I could have hugged this person.

In summary …

If you find yourself in public staring at a pregnant woman, and you just can’t resist the urge to say something all you need to do is say this one simple thing:

Congratulations.

Then, swiftly walk away and leave her and her hormones alone. xo

A Love Note to Kelsey Jean

Her confidence and her personality are two of the most beautiful things about her. She shines when she enters a room. It’s like there is a spotlight following this girl. I know I’m her mom and moms are supposed to think the world of their children … but there is something about this girl. Something so remarkable.

She has the most powerful personality, laugh, smile, heart and that makes her an all-around beauty to me. She is my best friend and I could not vision my life without her. Nor would I want to.

She’s almost four years old (I can’t even …).  And I can still remember the day she was born like it was yesterday.  It’s like somehow you forget all about the pains of labor (until you’re about to do it again) but you remember so clearly exactly how you felt the moment your child was born.

When people ask me about my daughter, they all seem to ask the same question  “What’s your favorite age?” And my answer is always the same. This one.

KIDS kids KIDS

Our Life Seen in the Pages of a Book

I’m starting a new book. Rather, making a new book. My friend Teri gave me the idea because at the end of every year, she creates a hardcover book of her and her husbands annual journey through life … as seen through photos. I’m going to do the same. I found this company, Artifact Uprising that I really like. Seems like I can make quality books in a few steps.

I’ve started gathering images and decided that I am going to make Kelsey a book for her 4th birthday. I think I’ll do one every year after. A book that shows her all of the things we did the year prior. I think it will be very special to watch our family grow every year, as seen through the pages of a photo book.

Have you done something like this before? Any tips for getting started?

Artifact uprising photo books Artifact Uprising

Artifact uprising photo books

Artifact Uprising 6

Artifact uprising photo booksArtifact Uprising photo bookArtifact uprising photo books

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