Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Life is a Funny Thing

Today I have been reflecting on life. Three years ago, if you would have asked me where I'd be on September 24, 2013, I would have probably told you that I'd be at either Ball State University, Olivet Nazarene University, or Michigan State. I would have told you that I would be studying journalism to be a writer/photographer for Time magazine, and would one day live in New York City. I would have told you that I'd either be single or dating, and would probably be playing rec. soccer somewhere. I'd probably have a part time job at some retail shop in the mall, and would be in debt up to my eyeballs.

Now, if you would have sat me down and told me that I 1) would be married to my husband, 2) would have a one-year-old daughter, 3) would be running my own photography business, and 4) would live 1,000 miles away from my family.... the only one I would even consider to be truth would be number three. I've always had a passion for photography, so I would call you crazy for that. The rest, however, I would have considered grounds for admission to a psych ward. I can honestly say that I would have never guessed that this is where I would be today.

What really gets me, is that I wouldn't change my life for the world. Where I'm at right now, is where I want to be. Okay, not at this moment... I'm seriously missing my husband. I knew that making an eleven day trip to Michigan without him would be slightly torturous, but I wasn't expecting to miss him this much. Aside from that.... I am in love with my life. Every day, I fall more in love with my husband. Even when he pisses me off, I want nothing else but to fall asleep in his arms, to kiss him goodnight, and to hear him say those sweet words, "I love you, baby." Every day, our beautiful daughter impresses me. Watching her grow up and explore new things is an experience like no other. Parenthood changes things. There really isn't a way to explain it. Life just makes more sense. I'm so in love with where I'm at, it's almost ridiculous. My photography business is at an all time high. I have realistic goals that I'm so determined to meet (that's an upcoming blog post, just so you know). I'm starting school up again in January and I'm determined to knock it out. I'm ready to be done, to have my degree, and to get even more serious about my business. I feel like everything in life has fallen into place. I'm where I'm supposed to be.

This week, I've done three different senior sessions with students who attend the high school I graduated from. Seeing things from their perspective really makes me think about where I was at in that part of my life. Not knowing exactly where they want to go to college, what they'll major in, or where they'll be even one year from now... it's all so normal for a high school senior. At the start of my senior year, my husband (then boyfriend) was in basic training in Kentucky. I waited by the mailbox daily for letters, and spent every Sunday locked away in my room impatiently waiting for a phone call. I didn't go out every Friday night with my friends, I didn't party like a crazy woman and drink until I couldn't think straight. I sat at home, planning my first trip to Georgia, planning our wedding, and figuring out where we would live and where I would go to school. I frequently forget that it's not exactly "normal" to be married at seventeen, a mom just two days shy of turning nineteen, and to live so far away from your family. This has become my "normal." People often ask me "what it's like" to live my life. I don't feel any different; I don't feel out of place. This is the life that I know and love. This is the life that I adore.

My recent positivity kick has completely flipped my world around. Rather than looking at the bad things in life, I'm constantly looking at the good. I'm appreciating things in a new light, and realizing what matters in the big scheme of things, and what's not worth spending time worrying about. I'm still not entirely sure where all of this clarity came from, but I love it. Life is feeling really good right now. I'm planning on holding on to these feelings for a long time.

God Bless ♥V

Friday, September 20, 2013

Traveling with a Toddler

I'm pleased to say that my first flight with Miss A wasn't as bad as I expected, though not quite as good as I'd hoped. Overall, our trip went pretty smoothly. I'm not as worried about making the trip home now. I learned a few lessons in my travels.

First, always have everything packed the night before. I figured that I'd pack my carry-on in the morning since I was taking my computer and camera. To my surprise, my camera bag is far too big to fit in a carry-on. Que panic attack. If you didn't already know, my camera is my second child. I'm not joking, she really is my baby. Putting her in checked baggage was the last thing I wanted to do. I packed her in there pretty well, cushioned with as much as possible. Luckily, she made it safely. I haven't inspected all my lenses yet, but everything looks to be okay. My checked baggage only made weight by 4 pounds. I suppose it was a blessing in disguise, since I had even more weight in that bag before I had to rearrange for my camera. 

Next, plan for  extra time. We only made it to the airport with enough time for me to wash out Miss A's bottle, go pee, and go through security.  I waited in line for a minute or two while people got on the plane. Also, at our layover... I had to wait about 15 minutes after I got off the plane to get my stroller back. We landed in Concourse E, and had to make it to Concourse B... in five minutes. For those of you who haven't been to Charlotte before, here's a map:

The top right is where we landed, and the bottom left is where we took off from. There's also two levels, so we had to find an elevator. It was crazy busy. Again, luck was on our side, and my flight was leaving a few minutes later than planned so we made it in time to board when we were supposed to. 

The third lesson I learned was that toddlers will never do what you want them to do. I had high hopes that Miss A would watch Despicable Me on the iPad for the first flight and half of the second. Nope. She was far too busy giving her reflection on the iPad's screen kisses and rocking back and forth trying to hide from it. 

On our first flight, the woman next to us slept and ignored us the whole flight. It made things a little more difficult since I was desperately trying to keep Miss A quiet. She got pretty fussy mid-flight, and started crying/yelling. The people across the aisle helped to entertain her, which I appreciated greatly. Even though we had a window seat, we didn't have a window. I know she was bored and wanted to explore. These were the challenges that I anticipated. 

The second flight went more smoothly than the first. It was about 30 minutes longer, but we had a wonderful woman next to us. She helped entertain Miss A when she started to fuss, and even gave us a protein bar that A kept grabbing out of her bag. This woman was kind of a life saver. I let A snack quite a bit on the second flight. I had packed some gold fish, yogurt puffs, and pretzels. I also had a cup of juice and a cup of water that helped a ton with her ears popping. 

We actually had a window that time, so she was able to look out and see the clouds. Even though she didn't find it particularly interesting, it was something different. She almost fell asleep for the last 20 minutes of our second flight, but that's when we started our descent into Detroit so her ears started popping again. 

Take-off and landing were definitely the worst parts. I knew that the altitude changes would be the worst part.  I did give her Tylenol before we left since she's cut a total of  five teeth in the last two weeks. Her poor little mouth is still so swollen. 

Everyone was pretty impressed and infatuated with our little girl. I got lots of comments like "She's so cute!" and "Are you traveling to a pageant?"  She is definitely not shy with strangers. She literally leaped into the nice woman's lap on or second flight. She was telling everyone hello and bye-bye as we entered and left the plane. Even I was impressed by how calm she remained with all of the new surroundings. 

The only other thing I had issues with was juggling all of our luggage. Thank God my mom was able to meet us inside the airport to help with watching Miss A while I got my bags. I'll definitely update on how our next flight goes. On another note, Miss A is still completely knocked out (over two hours later than when she normally wakes up). I guess traveling was as exhausting for her as it was for me!

God Bless ♥ V

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Differences with a One Year Old

I've had a lot of moms ask me if I like this phase of Miss A's life better than the newborn phase. I really can't answer that question with a simple "yes" or "no." There are parts of newborn/baby life that I absolutely loved and miss dearly, but there are so many things about her toddler-hood that I love as well.

Among the things that I miss of the newborn/stationary baby phase are the squishiness, chubby legs, soft coos, and all the firsts. I miss being able to lay her on my chest and take a nap on the couch. I miss getting so excited when she rolled over, or made a new sound, or figured out a new toy... I miss rocking her to sleep. I miss putting her down in one spot and actually find her there again in twenty seconds. I miss having her sleep for a lot of the day so I can get everything I need to get done, out of the way before Jimmy gets home from work.

I absolutely love the age that Miss A is at now. I love that she's mobile. Even though it does present a new set of challenges, it makes things easier. When we're in the store, I don't lug around her car seat. I just stick her in the cart, or let her walk. When I run into the post office for something simple, I'm not having to tote the entire car seat, diaper bag, and six different toys with us. She can handle sitting on the counter while I fill out the envelope and she can stand still when we're getting served. I can't even express how much easier it is to feed her now. Even though she still gets ornery and will make a crazy mess of her food sometimes, being able to give her solids and watch her feed herself is amazing. I haven't bought baby food in over a month. It's weird, but I love it. I love watching her personality grow. She is her own person, with her own "Adi-tude." I love that she can go from 8:00 in the morning until after noon without napping if I need her to.

The things I don't miss? The middle of the night wake-ups, the screaming for no reason, the constant worry that something could go wrong with her lung (obviously that's not the case with all babies though). I don't miss her not being able to notion to the fridge when she's hungry, her spitting up on me, or the crazy (frequent) poop explosions when we tried a new food.

Would I change the process that got us to where we are now? Absolutely not. I loved every experience with her. Even her surgery... Of course, I wish she wouldn't have had to go through that, especially at such a young age. It helped me grow though, it brought us closer. I gained new perspective on healthcare and an amazing appreciation for modern technology that discovered her CCAM in the beginning. Years ago, babies would have died from her condition. It would have gone undetected, got infected or turned cancerous, and could be fatal. Thanks to the advances in ultrasounds and other scans, doctors were able to monitor her and put my mind at ease. The late night wake-ups and doctors visits were quality time that I got to spend with my sweet girl. I love reflecting on how we got to where we are today.

So what are the new challenges that we face now? Mobility, as I said before, presents new challenges. She's getting taller so she can reach things that used to be "safe zones" for things that weren't so baby-friendly. We always have to make sure pot handles are turned in on the stove, knives are at the back of the counter, and anything heavy is out of reach. I can't take my eyes off of her for a second when we're out, or she'll be climbing or running away. The girl is fearless. Another challenge is timing naps. We're making the transition from two naps to one a day... As I type this, she's sitting in her crib yelling at me because she doesn't want to sleep. Less than a month ago, she would be going down for her second nap of the day in about an hour... but now she doesn't want to nap yet. It's been a huge adjustment. Everything is interesting to her, even the bad things. I don't know how many times I've found her putting disgusting things in her mouth. Even though this isn't an entirely new challenge, it has grown. She's so curious (which I absolutely adore), so everything has to be tested. "Does it taste good? Does it make noise? If I hit mommy in the head with it, what does it do?" Though I love watching her discover new things and experiment with how things work... I wish she wouldn't "discover" dog poop.

At the end of the day, I fall in love with my daughter more and more each time I look at her. She is always impressing me with something new. I know that the "firsts" are far from over. She's got so much life ahead of her, such a bright future. She is incredibly smart and advanced for her age. I can't believe how fast she's growing up.

So to answer the question that prompted this blog... do I love this phase more than the newborn phase? No. I love it equally. New skills, new challenges, and new experiences all make every day something to look forward to.

September 2012

August 2013

God Bless ♥ V

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Prepping for Fall

Even though it's only the beginning of September, I'm so excited for Fall this year. In Michigan, I always considered this month the start of Fall, but here in Georgia... where it's supposed to be nearly ninety degrees today... October seems a little more like the start.

I'm getting more excited for my trip home next week (already?). Adalin has way too many cute clothes for fall. Even though it's just as hot in Michigan as it is in Georgia today, next week's forecast is the 60's and 70's. Miss A has so many little sweaters and jeggings, not to mention her boots. I can't wait to dress her up all cute-like. Photos are going to be a must, even though the leaves probably won't be changing too much at that point.

Yesterday, a great friend and I went to Bath and Body Works because they had their soaps on sale... I've been kind of obsessed with them lately. They have all their fall scents out and they are great. I got an apple orchard soap that smells amazing. I've been using a little extra soap each time I wash my hands so I can rotate the new one in sooner. I only wish I was kidding about that. Anyway, I have lots of fall decor that I'm excited to put up once we get home. I'm going all-out for the holidays this year since it's Jimmy's first holidays with our sweet girl.

Halloween is going to be awesome this year. I've decided to not "widely" announce what we're doing, even though most of our close friends know... but I will say that it's going to be awesome. I started on Miss A's and my costumes today. Adalin's is proving to be the easiest, but mine is going to be a little harder than I expected. Have I mentioned that I don't really sew well? Yeah, that's going to be interesting. I haven't started the Mister's yet, but hopefully his won't be too difficult.

I never thought I'd be tired of the Georgia heat, but I'm starting to get there. It's more the humidity than anything, but I'm certainly ready for the cooler fall temperatures to come. It's going to be a great season.

God Bless ♥ V

Friday, September 06, 2013

Focusing on Positivity

The last week or two, I've been trying something new. Rather than letting the bad get me down in the dumps, I'm trying hard to focus on all the good things in my life.

I'll fully admit, I'm an emotional person. When I'm upset, it throws my whole day off. When I'm happy, you can't smack the smile off my face. Here's something that will never get old to me, will literally bring me to tears every time because I laugh so hard.

Yes, I am crying now... because I've watched it three times today. The end gets me every time... "Why would you do that?"  Oh gosh. Anyway, whenever I need a little pick me up, this is my go-to.

I've been trying to make little lists every day of the good things that are going on. Today's list?
1. My sweet girl is doing great after getting shots yesterday. Even though she puked on me as soon as she woke up this morning, she's been pretty great since then.
2. I got lab work back from last week and I'm not dying. Okay, that was a tad dramatic... I went in because I'm almost constantly tired. Making it through the day without a nap is a serious accomplishment. They thought it could be my thyroid or iron levels, but both came back normal. So at least my blood looks good, now to figure out why I'm so sleepy...
3. I am booking more photo sessions and am playing with my new gear a lot. Photography makes me happy.
4. My husband and I are nearing the end of reintegration. It feels good to find the "new normal" and have a pretty good routine down. Miss A is so sweet with her daddy, always giving him kisses when she says good night to him. Yes, this still makes me cry every time, even though it's becoming a regular thing.
5. It's Friday! No explanation needed there!

I'm working on simplifying my life, figuring out what's important and what's not. Even though I'm not in school this semester, I feel more fulfilled than ever. I'm investing more time in my daughter's life, in my marriage, and in my business. It feels great to have some direction and actual (reachable) goals that I'm working towards. Life is good, and God is great. That's my motto for the day.

God Bless ♥ V

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Hello Again!

I seem to be getting into a bad habit of not blogging for a while, then blogging like crazy. Here's to hoping that I can find a happy middle ground this month. So... what's new in my life? Where do I even begin.

In the last month or so, I've really started to take myself seriously as a photographer. I've been taking the time to educate myself, to try new things, and to really push to achieve something new with my camera every week. Constant challenges are going to me better, so that's what I'm doing as much as I can. I'm really excited to see where I'm at in a month, and in a year.

Miss A... I don't even know where to begin with her. I definitely have a toddler now, no more baby. I'm loving how curious she is, continuing with "What's that?" all the time. She feeds her self anything that we let her. There are a few foods (like applesauce or other things that require a spoon) that I'm not ready to clean up yet, but anything solid is a go. She's completely transitioned to whole milk, and only drinks from her bottle twice a day. For some reason, I don't want to put milk in a sippy-cup, but I know it has to happen. Maybe that will be my goal for this week. Miss A is so incredibly mobile. There's pretty much nothing that's off limits for her now. She can easily get up on the couch, climb out of the tub (not a fan of this), and almost anywhere else she'd like to go. She can reach door handles now, but not open them yet. She can also reach our kitchen counter. Yes, that was game over for a dirty kitchen! A month ago, she really thought that books were food, always trying to tear out the pages and eat them. When we got back from leave I brought a bookshelf out into the living room and put all of her board books on it. Now she will bring me books and sit with me while I "read" them, or at least explain what the pictures are. The longer books are still a bit too long for her attention span. She has so many books already! I'm hoping to completely fill this bookcase (three shelves) by Christmas.

I absolutely love watching her learn and create new names for things. One of her favorite toys, a Curious George stuffed animal that my mom got her, is called "Go." Every morning I hear, "Where's Go? Goooo! Go?" Until she finds him, then I hear a huge sigh of releif, "Ahh, Gooo." It's basically the cutest thing ever. Her most recent new words are "uice" (juice), "neeze" (please), and "no." I absolutely love how much she says "mama" and "daddy" now. She really knows how to break my heart with her sad faces. It's rough... 

Other than that, life is back to normal for the most part. Hubby is back to work and on a relatively normalized schedule. We've found our new routine with sharing the parenting responsibilities. Life is feeling really good. 

God Bless ♥ V