Archive for the ‘Birthday’ Category

  • Happy Third Birthday to My Norah Bean

    Date: 2016.09.22 | Category: Birthday, Family, Home, Life, Love, Norah | Response: 0

    The fact that I’m making this birthday post two days after her actual birthday because her baby sister has been super sick and consuming my days, is so quintessentially “Happy Birthday Middle Child.” Sigh, I swear, we do try our best. And despite the fact that I spent most of Norah’s birthday at the pediatrician’s office, Mark did make her very favorite dinner – potato soup, which requires a lot of prep work – while keeping an eye on the other kids. AND, I did go have lunch at school with Norah, even though she freaked out because we were sitting separately from her class and she thought I was going to leave her at the “trouble table” alone. But we pulled through it. She also got the Stitch toy she’s been begging me for and she and her little mischievous alien friend are now inseparable. Also – Lilo and Stitch luau party this weekend!

    Now, onto Norah’s birthday post.

    ***

    Last night as I watched my girls play in the bathtub, I marveled at Norah laughing, singing and using her imagination, remembering the day she was born. She, ever the child with her own agenda, came three days before her scheduled c-section. I remember holding her and thinking how very different she looked from Sarah, rubbing her head full of hair against my cheek, and staring at her laying on the hospital bed with the sunlight filtering through the windows onto her chubby little cheeks.

    That was three years ago, and honestly it feels like so much longer than that. I worry sometimes, that I somehow robbed Norah of her “babyhood” by having the twins while she was still an 18-month-old baby herself, but she impresses me. I think there is a reason that she is exactly where she is in our family dynamic.

    Even at 18 months, she was smart and resourceful and had an amazing vocabulary. When I tell people it’s her birthday, people often say, “Oh, is she four?” To which I respond, “Nope, she’s three. All those crazy things she’s been saying and doing have been coming from the mouth and imagination of a two-year-old.”

    At three, Norah is really coming into her own. It’s one of my most favorite things about this age. And while she holds definite opinions about things (a big NO to pizza, for instance), she does love to follow her big sister’s lead in playing make believe. Together they will line up the My Little Ponies and play school with them, or put on costumes and dance through the house, or play mermaids in the bathtub.

    At three, Norah is always a source of entertainment and frustration in our house. One minute she’ll be physically kicking someone out of “her spot” on the couch and I have to go running in to rescue the screaming victim, and then in the next moment she’ll be sharing her beloved “kiki” blanket with her crying baby sister. I can’t pretend to understand her thought process or reasoning – but what’s life without a little guesswork?

    At three Norah is charming and knows how to get people to do what she wants. I’m sometimes kind of horrified by this quality, but I know it will likely serve her well as she grows into the leader she’s destined to be. Out of all my children, people comment the most that Norah makes them laugh or smile. Her fierceness combined with her mischievousness and devilish grin make her a bottomless well of great story material. Even now her former teachers and babysitters will tell me Norah stories that make me laugh and often embarrass me, but she takes it all in confident stride.

    At 3, her ability to process and understand things also amazes me. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. Her response was, “You mommy.” To which I replied, “No, what do you want for a present?” Norah said, “To spend the day with you.”

    It broke my heart and made it melt at the same time. And due to the logistics of things in our lives, we couldn’t get exactly that, but I did have a day with just me, Norah and Sarah,” and together we had lunch, got ice cream and got to pick out a My Little Pony from the store. Both girls told me it was the “best day ever.”

    Our house and appliances have been broken, painted with various lotions and sunscreen, colored on and had holes punched through them more times in the past three years than I thought possible. We’ve made far too many ER trips and learned what a papoose board is, to my great dismay. Norah truly embodies her favorite movie character, Stitch, but like Stitch, she also has a heart of gold and places all of her trust, love and joy in her “ohana,” her family.

    Mark likes to say that God must think a lot of us for giving us Norah, and yes, she challenges us daily, but somehow, even in the midst of her worst disasters, we often find ourselves trying not to laugh. I am so grateful for the chaos, the joy, the laughter and the love that Norah has brought into our lives over the past three years.
    Happy third birthday, my girl. We love you.

  • One Whole Year with Twins

    Date: 2016.04.13 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Luke, Mark, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 0

    My twins, by babies, are one today.

    When I’ve mentioned their upcoming birthday to people, they stare at me in shock, “Noooo! There is no way! That went by so fast – well fast for me, it probably wasn’t fast for you.”

    But in truth, it was the fastest year of my life.

    I admit, when we first brought the twins home from the hospital, after the initial joyful rush of meeting my two new little people, the fear set in. Our first night home, Mark and I, seasoned parents, only got 45 minutes of sleep. “What has happened to us?” we wondered dismally. Enter the blur.

    I have a hard time remembering the first 4-6 months of their lives. There was trouble with nursing, supplements, trying to figure out how to manage two babies at once at night and somehow get them both back to sleep at the same time so we had a chance of rest. There were so many nights where I just stayed up with them, earbuds in, tearing through one audiobook after another, or watching shows on NatGeo about hermits living in remote places, listening to Scott Brick narrate Jurassic Park and Lost World.

    We struggled with both babies gaining enough weight in the beginning. I cried when I had to supplement them for the first time as I dealt with tough emotions of “not being enough” for them. They were small and Vera was behind on her milestones. We were adjusting from being parents of two to being parents of four.

    “Why?!” Mark and I often wondered. “Why were these two little souls entrusted to us?”

    And then something amazing started happening around the time they turned six months old. For one, they started sleeping stretches at night. Real, honest to goodness sleep. I tell you, if I have sleep, I can conquer the world! And I began to sleep as well. Instead of life being, “How in the world do I take care of them both at once?” It became, with a sense of awe, “Oh my goodness, I get to take care of two babies at once.”

    They began to notice one another, interact with each other, their sisters, us. They were happy, smiling, laughing. They developed fascinations with things and especially with one another. “What a blessing,” I thought, “to get to experience having twins.”

    Luke and Vera have such wonderful little personalities. They daycare teachers always tell us that even when everyone else is upset and crying, they remain happy (though I attribute that to them having to learn to self soothe very early on in life because there were only two of us and four of them).

    Luke has always been our physical child. The first to roll, sit, crawl, eat, pull up. Vera is our introspective child, always taking in the world around her, and she’s much more verbal. She says a host of syllables and clicks her tongue and lets out the short little “he he’s” when she laughs. Luke is our chuckler, who lets out great big belly laughs. Where Vera daintily eats her food and hardly makes a mess, Luke dives in fists first and shovels everything in his mouth at once, making sure to cover his face, hair and ears in the process. Where Vera is our blue eyed blondie, Luke is our olive skinned boy with dark hair and dark eyes. His hands and feet are twice the size of hers.

    Watching them together is one of my greatest joys. They are so funny together. Just the other day they were holding onto a chair next to me. Luke was trying to get my attention, when Vera reached over and pulled his hair. He turned and swatted her, screeched at her and then turned back to me. Vera promptly let out her “he he” and did it again.

    Life with twins is certainly no joke… or maybe it is and the joke’s on us. Luke and Vera were such unexpected, surprise additions to our lives, but they have brought with them so much heart, so much laughter and so much joy.

    They are great little people and somehow, together, we’ve all managed to survive the first year.

    Happy First Birthday Vera. Happy First Birthday Luke.

    We did it.

    P.S. We also finally got the hang of tandem nursing after the first 6 weeks and we were able to stop supplementing then, too. This mama has now successfully nursed twins for a whole year. And I think it’s ok to be a little proud of that. <3

  • Five.

    Date: 2016.04.11 | Category: Birthday, Sarah | Response: 0

    Today, my bright, beautiful oldest girl turn five years old.

    Every time I became a mother to another of our children, it was special. But there is something so unique, so terrifying about becoming a mother for the very first time. When I think back to those last few days before I gave birth to her, before my life was changed, I laugh a little and feel so emotional. I remember being so ready to not be pregnant anymore and simultaneously terrified of giving birth. I read every book, every article, imagined it over and over and over in my head.

    And when the day came, a week past her due date, stubborn from the start, it was unlike anything I could have imagined.

    That day Sarah came into the world, big at over 8 pounds, eyes wide open with deep, sweet dimples. I gazed at her, amazed that I was her mother, responsible for her life, largely in charge of her future, and oh, how I loved her.

    It is so very hard for me to believe that was five years ago. It feels both so close and so far away. In the five years since then, Sarah has formed herself into my dazzling little pixie with an expansive imagination and a love for art and fashion. I have to laugh at myself now, remembering how I didn’t want my little girl to be covered in all things pink, when that has always been the color she chooses as her very favorite.

    This past year has made my Sarah girl really grow up. She became the big sister to twins two days after her fourth birthday and she has embraced her role mightily. She loves her babies with a joyful devotion. If I’m not watching, she will scoop one up, scurry off to her room, then close the door so they can’t escape. There she reads to them, dresses them up and plays games with them. When I come looking for them and open the door, Sarah always lets out a protest, “But Mama, I want to play with them! Please close the door!”

    At first I dreaded her picking them up, but after a time I decided just to teach her the correct way to do it and it’s become so helpful. If one baby is crawling off to where they aren’t supposed to be, Sarah will rush to their rescue and carry them back to safety.

    She dotes on them constantly, naming Vera “little cutie,” and Luke “little buddy.”

    At 5, Sarah absolutely floors me with her art. She loves to draw and makes up beautiful scenes of unicorns and flowers and butterflies. She inserts specific details and gets extremely upset if things aren’t exactly perfect. So many times I hear loud tears and when I ask her what’s the matter she crumples up her paper and tells me that it’s not perfect, she messed up. It breaks my heart to see her struggle with perfectionism, but I also know that it serves her in improving herself.

    One of my very favorite of her creative outlets is fashion design. I feel like I’m watching my very own episodes of Project Runway as she colors and cuts out pieces of paper, creating her own patterns to assemble outfits on her My Little Pony. Or, with great skill, turns ordinary items into crowns, scraps of ribbon and cloth into capes for her dolls. Even Vera is often adorned in custom made Sarah clothes.

    Sarah is my sensitive heart. She feels so deeply for other people and animals and does not like scary things. She continues to love books and has even begun to sound out letters and words and it makes me so happy.

    Ever my flower child, one of her very favorite things to do is pick wild flowers and create bundles of them for me and our kitchen table.

    As I look back over this past year, I have to selfishly say that I could not have made it through without my Sarah girl. She has become such a good helper around the house, always willing to bring me things when the babies are nursing, or help direct Norah out of trouble.

    I am so grateful, so blessed, so proud of my firstborn girl. I can’t believe she’s 5: the age of kindergarten and the very heart of little girlhood. Her long, skinny frame, skinned elbows, wide grin and wild, short hair are just so very right on her, and her kind spirit and vivid imagination make me so happy.

    Happy Birthday my Sarah girl. I love you.

  • Turning Two

    Date: 2015.09.20 | Category: Birthday, Family, Home, Norah | Response: 0

    As a parent, it’s easy to say that we can’t believe our children are however old they happen to be. Time moves so quickly and before we know it, another year has passed by.

    But I can 100% believe Norah is two now. I actually feel like she’s been two for a long while now. I’m not sure if having the twins has forced her to become independent, or if she’s always just had that in her, but she makes up her mind to do things a certain way and just does them.

    Yesterday we took Norah to a birthday party and I was talking to another mother there. I was pointing out my children to her and when I told her Norah was about to be two, she was surprised. She said, “Wow, she’s so independent and unafraid, I thought she must be three!”

    And that is Norah in a nutshell: independent and unafraid with a hot temper and a sweet hugs.

    This year has been a hard one for Norah. Being booted from the baby of the family to the middle child by not just one, but two babies when you’re still a baby yourself is just kind of mean. I’m sorry about that kid. You didn’t take it well. The first three months of having new siblings were particularly hard. When you couldn’t get mom and dad’s undivided attention, you would attempt to hurt the babies because you knew you would get that attention right away.

    But as much as I lament the trouble we had with you those first few months, I am so proud of you now. You are constantly kissing on your brother and sister and calling them “Uke” and “Baby,” which works fine for us.

    Oh my Norah bean, you are a child of extremes and you want to do everything on your own terms. I attempt to hand you a graham cracker and you hurl yourself to the floor and scream, and when I turn my back you BEG for the same cracker you loudly just rejected. I usually end up just leaving it on the table so you can get up and get it on your own terms. You can throw the loudest, most obnoxious temper tantrums and then snuggle up with the biggest kisses and “I love you mommy.”

    Speaking of, you are an amazing talker for a two-year-old. You have been speaking in full sentences for a while now and I still get tickled every time you tell me, “I excited!” You are so good at saying “Please” and “thank you.” Your vocabulary is so big that it surprises me, but “shoes” and “Sarah” are two of your most favorite words, oh and “Kiki,” which is the lovey blanket that goes everywhere you go. Any time we have to wash Kiki, it’s two hours of crying and begging for, “Kiki! I want Kiki!”. But since you drag Kiki through the mud and bathroom and car and school and garage, Kiki has to have a bath fairly often.

    You know you’re not supposed to hit, but you still do it anyway, but then follow immediately with a kiss. Earlier today you got mad at me, thwacked my arm and then immediately kissed it to try to avoid your time out in your room. It didn’t work, but it still softened up my heart.

    You, my dear, are always the child to get hurt or have some crazy injury or illness. I don’t know if that’s integral to being a middle child, or if it’s just part of being Norah, but you regularly scare the living daylights out of all of us. And even minor scrapes and bruises are an ordeal. “Bo bo!” you cry and dramatically point to your scraped knees that never quite heal before being scraped open anew.

    But oh my Bean, your hugs and kisses and snuggles are my favorite things. At night we read books together, just the two of us. You excitedly proclaim, “Seat!” before plopping into my lap and repeating every word I say. We pray together and your attempt at making the sign of the cross looks like a poorly executed attempt at the macarena – and I love it! To get you into school so you don’t run into the streets in the morning, I put you in my ErgoBaby carrier on my back and you love that too. We’ve figured it out so that once you’re on my back you hold my neck or shoulders until you’re secure, then you hold your kiki and lay your head on my shoulder as we walk in. You love being on my back and snuggled up so close. I’m so glad that even though you’re two now, you still love to go “up up” and let mama wear you.

    You are simultaneously our biggest challenge and our biggest heart. Your daddy and I can go from being so frustrated with you to belly laughing at your antics in the blink of an eye.

    Norah Bean, my sweet sweet two year old, you are so incredibly special and I am so glad you are our daughter. Happy second birthday my love.

  • The Twins: A Birth Story

    Date: 2015.04.22 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Health, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 2

    Most twins don’t make it to term for delivery. The mother’s body runs out of room, or her uterus gets too big and gets confused and labors early, or or or… So many things in twin pregnancies mean an early delivery, which is why when we found out we were expecting two babies, we immediately had to start seeing a high risk OB in addition to our regular OB.

    I quickly learned that I was one of the lucky ones. I was tall, relatively young and in good health and my babies were fraternal, not sharing a placenta. We monitored them as the weeks went on and watched as our Baby B got bigger and bigger. He was above average in size, while his sister paced along hitting her slightly below average milestones. Baby B was also awash in fluid, swimming in what Mark dubbed his “pent house.” As the time grew closer, they recommended that we deliver between 36 and 37 weeks.

    I was huge, very uncomfortable and often in a lot of pain, but I really wanted to make it to 37 weeks for the health of the babies. My regular OB agreed that we could try for 37 weeks and we tentatively scheduled their delivery date for April 13, right on the nose of 37 weeks. I hoped and prayed we would make it. My OB was going out of town the whole week before and she and I have been through a lot together. I really wanted her to be the one who delivered them.

    My body though, started to get other ideas. At 36 weeks I started having regular contractions. I was monitored and eventually put on medicine to slow the contractions. Over the course of the week I battled the contractions and several times we nearly went to the hospital when they got strong and regular. But, by a lot of prayers and miracles, we made it to 37 weeks and showed up for our scheduled c-section. When they hooked me up to the monitors upon our arrival at the hospital, I was having contractions every 5-7 minutes. It was baby day whether we wanted it to be or not, which eased my guilt about scheduling their delivery too soon.

    I was nervous about the c-section, despite my previous one. There’s something so creepy about being awake during surgery. I had a great anesthesiologist though, and he really attended to me and how I felt. Because there was so much weight and pressure on my body with two near-term babies, their placentas and all the extra fluid in my body, when I was on the operating table, they had to keep rotating the table side to side to keep me from passing out. The spinal block was particularly tough this time. It made me feel so sick and I just wanted to quit and not do it once it was started, but, as these things go, I had no choice. I tried to control the shakes and nausea and was so happy when Mark was finally allowed into the OR.

    The surgery itself was quick. The same doctor team who delivered Norah was there to deliver our twins. Mark even video recorded this delivery (and without much gore!) so I could watch our babies be delivered later.

    Our girl, Vera Margaret, was head down and delivered first. She arrived into the world with a squeaky little scream and weighed in at 5 pounds and 10 ounces. Her brother, Luke Anthony, was not so accommodating. He was lodged up high in the right side of my ribs and breech. It took one doctor pulling on his feet and another shoving him from the top of my ribs to get him out. My doctor knocked the breath out of me in the process, but as soon as he was out, I could breathe again. His cry was much more gurgly, and I barely got to see him before they whisked him away. Mark followed and recorded them being weighed and cleaned up for me while I was being stitched up. Luke weighed in at a whopping 7lbs and 6oz – huge for a twin or even a singleton, especially at 37 weeks! As my pediatrician said, he was stealing all her groceries.

    They quickly discovered that Luke was having trouble “transitioning.” They put both babies skin-to-skin on me, but when Luke’s oxygen levels wouldn’t regulate, he had to be whisked away to the nursery and put under an oxygen hood.

    My tiny Vera was right as rain though, and got to stay with me.

    It was hard not having my son with me that first day. It was very surreal – after all it had always just been me and one baby girl after delivery before and there I was again in the same situation. I missed him though, bone deep. I don’t know what I would have done without his sister to hold on to and keep me stable. The nursery was great though and called down every hour or so to give me updates. My family and husband went to the nursery regularly to check on him, and bring me pictures and updates. Our pediatrician even texted me photos of him.

    We went through a “wait and see” period with him all day. Finally and miraculously, that evening they were able to bring him to me.

    Vera is a petite little pixie with huge eyes. We got to spend a whole day bonding together, just the two of us, mostly skin to skin.

    Luke was a big boy who seemed to favor his mother in looks and was (and still is) most content in his mama’s arms.

    The thing that was most spectacular about having twins was watching them together. They shared a bassinet in the hospital, and when one would get inconsolable, we could lay them next to the other and they would immediately quiet down.

    And Sarah was so keen on meeting her new siblings that she faked an ear infection and pain at school, had the front office call me in the hospital and got out of after school play practice. When mom picked her up and asked her about her ear, she informed mom that it really didn’t hurt that bad after all, it was just was a little warm. When she got to the hospital, I still only had Vera with me, and Sarah was so concerned and kept asking me where her brother was. She was (and still is) so so so good to her siblings. She climbed into bed with Vera and me, snuggled up to her sister and said, “Oh, you’re so cute like an itty bitty unicorn.”

    And she immediately did the same with her brother when we finally got to have him in our room.

    Norah, however, did not know what to think about mom holding a new baby. She wouldn’t come anywhere near me until I handed Vera off to someone else, then she immediately climbed into bed with me and held on for dear life.

    Mark was a champ throughout the whole day. He stayed strong, watched after our Luke man and took care of all of us despite battling off a sinus infection and having to sleep on that awful hospital couch.

    And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing the hospital staff was that day and every day we were there. Everyone from the doctors and nurses to the team who worked and checked on Luke to the lactation consultants made everything so much easier and less stressful.

    The rest of our hospital stay was kind of crazy, especially as Vera started to run into her own set of troubles, but that’s a story for another post.

    Their birthday was eventful, and sometimes scary, but beautiful in its own right. I am so very thankful that we were able to make it to 37 weeks, a milestone most twin moms don’t get to reach, and that we got to have them with us in our hospital room most of the time. Happy birthday my sweet sweet Vera and Luke.

  • Happy Fourth Birthday Sarah!

    Date: 2015.04.11 | Category: Birthday, Life, Sarah | Response: 1

    Oh my dear, sweet FOUR-year-old Sarah girl,

    Typing that line was enough to make me tear up. How did we get here already?

    Over the past year, your personality has truly blossomed. You went from a shy, quiet girl, to one bursting with life and plenty of drama. I think pre-school has been good for you. You’ve made so many new friends and your intelligence has started to shine through. You can now write all of your letters, though you still get frustrated with “S, N and W.” You can write your name, both forwards and backwards. You know what sounds your letters make and love to ask mom and dad which letters different words begin with.

    You have a knack for remembering the most arcane and specific details about books, movies and even gifts. Just today you were drinking out of a cup and looked up at me and said, “Mama, this is the cup Mimi gave me for Valentine’s Day.”

    You are very smart, yes, but it’s watching you use your imagination that touches my heart the most.

    You can sit for an hour stretch with your My Little Ponies in front you, building elaborate castles for them and their princesses out of blocks, making them all talk to each other in turn. You love to draw and color, creating masterpieces of your family, friends, seasons and elephants out of crayons. You always works so diligently and are very specific in your color choices.

    You love to perform, primarily singing songs you made up yourself while dressed in costumes you picked and performing ballet steps that you must have seen somewhere, because you’re pretty dang good. You always want all the grown ups’ attention and get frustrated sometimes when we talk to each other, get on the phone or spend time with your sister, but you mean well.

    At four you have a heart of gold. Yesterday, as I was trying to rest up for the soon-to-be delivery of your twin siblings, you informed me that you were going to be my mama that day. You then quickly tucked me in to the bottom bunk of your bed, brought me a stuffed animal, dimmed the lights and read me books before telling me to go to sleep and you would make me feel better. Guess what? You totally did.

    Your little sister can be so mischievous, but you tolerate her well. Instead of getting angry and hitting her when she makes you mad, you give her a tight hug and tell her to “Stop that Bean!,”  though you do love it when she gets in trouble.

    You are tough and independent and love to boss people around, most of whom are happy to do your bidding much to mommy’s dismay. Sometimes we have to correct you, and when we do you take it very personally and go hide in your closet until you’re ready to come out, always with an apology on your lips, to face the consequences.

    You LOVE being a big sister and showing Norah how things are done. You beam as you show her how to use a fork properly, or brush your hair or put dishes in the sink. You’ve even started trying to show her how to use the potty and are happy to report to mom and dad when she’s getting into something she shouldn’t be.

    Sarah you have the most beautiful, vibrant spirit. I marvel at your bravery on insisting and practicing and then trying out for the school play (and scoring a role!). I glow as I watch you bring toys to your sister and sing songs to her to help her stop crying. You have no idea how much I love it when you crawl up next to me on the couch in the evenings and ask to snuggle and watch a show. I want to bottle those moments up and put them in my pocket for bad days.

    Oh my Sarah girl, my four-year-old, my first born, how I love you. Here’s to many more joys together in the next year.

    Love you,
    Mama

  • Norah is One

    Date: 2014.09.23 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 3

    Norah’s first birthday was Saturday.

    My baby is one.

    There, I said it.

    Emotionally, I’ve had a little bit of a tough time with her birthday. Sure, she’s not technically different from one day to the next, but it is so hard for me to believe that it’s been a full year since the day she was born – a day that feels like a few months ago.

    Norah’s first year of life started out crazy. In the weeks before she was born I was in a car accident that landed my 9-month-pregnant self in the hospital. We were both ok, fortunately, but that was our first time getting to know the labor and delivery staff.  False labor provided us with a second opportunity to meet the staff,  and then real labor three days before my scheduled c-section sent us back in a third time.

    Norah came roaring into the world, and, as we soon discovered, it was a premonition of things to come.

    Norah’s first 3+ months of life were extremely difficult. While she napped well during the day, at 9pm every night she roared to life in a state of unabated fury until sometime around 3am. Mark and I were miserable, sleep-deprived, angry human beings. Sarah asked for “quiet” for Christmas. I didn’t think we’d survive… until Norah found her thumb and then the heavens opened and the angels burst forth singing. Our baby started to sleep.

    In the following months, we saw that she continued to have a very hot and cold personality. She’s either the most glowing, relaxed happy baby, or she is a screaming, angry beast. We lovingly refer to her as Jekyll and Hyde. Nighttime continues to be a problem. She will still wake up for short periods of time most nights, but she’s learned to self soothe and go back to sleep pretty quickly.

    Despite all that though, she has an amazing and beautiful joyful side.

    Our baby girl is up for almost anything (except maybe extended, tight hugs from her sister). She continues to be a great eater and always has an easy and contagious smile and  cackle.

    The day before she turned one, she decided it was high time to put her legs to good use and started walking in small spurts around the house. She still prefers to crawl, but if she has food in her hands, you better believe she’s not going to get it dirty by crawling with it.

    At one year Norah is our prankster. She will fake choke at the dinner table to get attention. And when I say fake choke, I mean full on holding breath and turning purple business until I start to panic and then she bursts out laughing.

    At one she will play with her sister. Just this past weekend I was laid up on the couch not feeling well and both girls wandered off into Sarah’s room. I heard lots of laughter from both girls and asked Mark to go investigate. They were both in Sarah’s princess pop-up castle tent, alternately playing peek-a-boo and sharing toys, absolutely delighted by each other’s company.

    Norah’s favorite thing on the planet (besides ice cream) is being on the trampoline. When we put her on there, she hurls her little body all over the place, even doing flips, and laughing while she flies into the air.

    Mark, Sarah and I all love to do things to get her to laugh, and she always loves and rewards our efforts. Whenever she smiles, her little nose scrunches up and she bares all 9.5 of her little teeth in a huge grin. Her smile reminds me so much of my little sister Shannon.

    Norah is a spectacular little person, and despite our rough start, she has more than made up for it with her sparkling and silly personality.

    We all love her so very much, and having her in our lives this past year has been an amazing blessing.

    Happy Birthday sweet Norah bean! We love you!

  • One in a Lifetime

    Date: 2014.05.19 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Health, Life, Me, Photography | Response: 3

    Sometimes life will give you those once in a lifetime moments. One such moment came for me when my sister asked me to be present for the birth of her son. That’s a big gift and a lot of trust to give to someone. When you’re laboring, your emotions and body are bare and you need to be surrounded by people you love and trust. I’m so thankful my sister counted me as one of those people.

    It was so neat to experience labor from this side, having gone through it myself before. The whole process truly is amazing and I’m proud to say I never once felt faint or woozy. Shannon had a great team of people coaching her and pushing her through it, and she birthed her big ole nearly 9 pound baby boy like a champ.

    The experience also allowed for some once in a lifetime photos. It was so amazing to be able to capture these moments.

    Here were some of my favorites.

    Welcome to the world Landon Robert. Your Auntie Jess already loves you so much. And way to go Shannon! You are one amazing mama.

  • 3rd Birthday: The Party!

    Date: 2014.04.29 | Category: Birthday, Family, Food, Friends, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 7

    Sarah’s third birthday party was a great success!

    Per her request, we made the party Frozen-themed. We had it at our house and opened up the backyard to a bunch of her friends.

    I love throwing her birthday parties. Some people may roll their eyes at the detail I put into birthday parties (*cough*Mark*cough*), but I sincerely enjoy planning and executing all of it. Plus, this year she was old enough to appreciate so much of it and was so excited.

    Plus my mom and both of my sister (one of whom is 9 months pregnant) helped me pull it all together.

    Here’s the birthday girl’s spread! It included carrot Olaf cupcakes and vanilla princess cupcakes, plus lots of blue, purple and white food.

    The birthday girl had a special shirt from my friend Kristen at Evangeline Made.

    Norah had her own birthday appropriate shirt too.

    We had so many of our best friends come, including my best friend Susan (who lives in Biloxi now) and her family – I guess Norah can be included as part of her family. Susan is like her auntie after all.

    The kids had fun jumping on Sarah’s new trampoline…

    Playing on the fort…

    And decorating cookies at the station we set up with our old front door (hey upcycle!) Mom baked all the cookies in the shapes of snowmen, snowflakes, crowns, castles and shoes. I’m sure the parents appreciated me setting out lots of sugar for their kids to eat. The kids liked it anyway.

    Everyone was so generous and Sarah got lots of goodies including her beloved Doc McStuffins dress up outfit.

    And everything else a princess might possibly need.

    Oh, and we had some very special guests! My sister MC and her friend Kirstie came as Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. Sarah absolutely loved it and all the kids took turns greeting the princesses and taking pictures with them.

    We gave out Frozen coloring books for party favors.

    It was an awesome third birthday party and I’m so glad it was such a great success.

    P.S. This photo of Mark and my nephew at the party is my favorite.

  • Happy Birthday Mark!

    Date: 2014.04.23 | Category: Birthday, Family, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah | Response: 3

    Today I get to celebrate the birthday of my best friend, my husband. Last night, while I was thinking about his birthday, I realized that this is the tenth of his birthdays we’ve spent together. Ten times I’ve sung for him and celebrated another year of his life.

    The first time we were still newly infatuated with one another, another time we were newly weds. Then Sarah came and helped us celebrate those birthdays, once when she was less than two weeks old. And this year Norah joined the celebration.

    Sarah was so excited about her daddy’s birthday this year that I let her pick out a card for him. She emphatically chose one with a pink mermaid and dolphin on it with wishes for the Birthday Girl. She wouldn’t be dissuaded and could not wait to give it to her daddy this morning. He loved it, of course. She also took great joy in thwacking Mark in his still sleeping face with her present for him – a CD and a box of twinkies.

    Norah also gave her daddy a special gift – loudly and proudly yelling out her first word, “Da da!” over and over again. Mark beamed and so did I.

    I gave him a new ice tea maker, an extra pitcher, some tea and the second Walking Dead book – all of which he loved.

    Birthdays are different now – no celebrations at the Blind Tiger during happy hour. Instead Mark and I got to enjoy lunch together, chowing down on burgers at the Twisted Root (which was really great, by the way).

    Last night I asked Mark, “So, how does your last night as a 36-year-old feel?”

    He said, “No different really. I still have my beautiful wife by my side and my two sweet little girls.”

    We are all about family these days, and though our sleep may be continually interrupted and it’s harder to find time to go out for a drink, I am so thankful that we get to celebrate another birthday together, for the tenth time.

    Mark is a special guy, and on his birthday especially, I’m so happy and proud that he’s my guy.

    Happy Birthday Mark! I love you.