Long Days and Short Years

*I wrote this post sometime this summer. I am so terribly behind on blogging, but I wanted to share it with you today.*

These days are long.

These days like today, where this boy sent me on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from elated to exhausted to angry to proud to exasperated to in awe.

This boy who just today threw 3 temper tantrums, drank my Starbucks, opened and ate a watermelon in the middle of the grocery store, stuck modeling clay to his bedroom wall, stuck his penis through the hole of a CD, tracked poo throughout the house, dumped out an entire jumbo bag of cat food in the laundry room and then tried to put the cat in the bath.

Just today, I found myself apologizing to the grocery store cashier for the half eaten dripping watermelon he had to ring up so we could exit the store, and saying the phrases, “Please take your penis out of the CD.” “Why is there poo on your foot?” “How did this entire bag of cat food wind up on the floor?” “We do not put cats in baths.”

But on this same day, this boy said, “You are the beu-ti-est Mommy I eber seen.” And my heart smiled. Just today, this boy was thoughtful enough to pack a snack in his Daddy’s work bag and say, “Daddy, you can take this snack to work to share with your friends.” Just today, this boy and I shared a lovely evening walk.

Yes, these days are long.

But these years are short.

This boy will be three years old in September. In just three years he has changed dramatically from a helpless infant to a thoughtful, smart, challenging, adorable, child. He has formed complex thoughts and a personality all his own.

This boy has entered my life and it has been a whirlwind ever since. He has changed me completely, and my love for him at times is so intense that it feels overpowering. This boy has taught me more about life and love in the three years I have known him than I ever could have put together on my own. And I am so aware that my time with him is limited. It will not be long before his world expands beyond this one we have created together. It will not be long before he is old enough to make his own grocery store trips and buy his own Starbucks and take care of his own pets. It will not be long before Mommy and Daddy are no longer the center of his world and he is no longer my sweet little boy.

Yes, these years are short.

“The days are long but the years are short.” – unknown, but my favorite quote since becoming a mommy

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The Second Birthday

In honor of my son’s third birthday on Saturday, (which I’m only kind of freaking out about), I am sharing the stories and pictures of his first two. In case you missed it, here is the story of his first birthday.

By the time the my son’s second birthday rolled around, I was in a much better place emotionally. It also coincided with my sister’s wedding, which took place in GA. I was a little distracted from my usual emotional vulnerability as I did maid of honor duties, prepared to sing at her ceremony, tried to prepare my little guy to be the ring bearer, and planned another large family gathering party…this time to take place in GA the weekend before my sister’s wedding.

The first year, I did not really know what “theme” to do, so I went with the colors blue and green and did cupcakes. The second year, my son had fallen in love with a character named Curious George. His loveys are two little Curious George stuffed animals. Though we have since moved on from his obsession with the TV show, the loveys are still a constant presence in our home and at the time Curious George was pretty much the only TV that ever got watched in our home.

So, naturally, the second birthday was all about George.

I meticulously planned all of the details, including shipping items to my in-laws house in GA where the party would take place, and prepared to throw a second birthday party with all of our family 10 hours away from our home.

The day of the party was flawless; family gathered together at my in-laws, some of my girlfriends from high school were able to stop by, and my in-laws helped with all of the set up and clean up.

Here’s a peek at the Curious George second birthday party in Georgia:

The invitation

The decorations

The birthday boy

The amazing cake

Family birthday pictures

Blowing out the candle, digging in, and opening presents.

After a very successful second birthday party in Georgia, we enjoyed my sister’s wedding. She was a stunning bride and my little guy was an adorable ring bearer.

My beautiful sister and my sweet boy

Me, my husband, and our sweet boy at the wedding

After an incredibly busy week in Georgia, we headed home to Richmond where we were met with the surprise of a massive power outage and a ton of debris in our yard. Richmond, VA was one of the many areas affected by the 2011 Hurricane Irene. We were one of the lucky ones who were not harmed and whose house was still standing, but we were without power for TEN DAYS.

On my son’s actual second birthday, September 1st, 2011, we were in a home with no power, and when the mailman arrived he delivered an IRS audit and an $11,000 bill for a dental surgery my son had that insurance was refusing to cover. (I will have to tell you that whole story one day.) So, similar to the first birthday, I spent most of his actual second birthday in tears.

Luckily, our power was restored after ten days and by the next week we had a small play date with his two best friends in Richmond.

The second birthday party play date. Two parties for turning two.

Two birthday parties for turning two, with a wedding and an eventful actual birthday thrown in.

The First Birthday

As a countdown to my son’s third birthday party, I thought I would share the first two.

The first birthday was the hardest one for me. I was an emotional wreck with the realization that my son was turning one, and had an incredibly difficult time with the one year anniversary of my difficult birth experience.

To add to my emotional anxiety, we had also just moved to Richmond, VA when my son was 9 months old. As soon as I had unpacked boxes I was throwing a huge birthday party.

All of our family flew up from GA to celebrate the only grandchild on both sides’ first birthday. It was a huge milestone. My mom, brother, sister, and all of their significant others as well as my husband’s parents, two brothers, sister-in-law and grandmother were there. We piled 15 people into our newly bought house and admired our sweet little boy.

The grand celebration was a four-day affair of family visiting, but the actual celebration was taking place on the Saturday after he turned one. This turned out to be a very good thing since I spent most of the day of his actual birthday crying.

We enjoyed the company of family and suffered minimal drama, though there always seems to be some at large family gatherings.

And then on the morning of the day of his party, my little boy started having trouble breathing. My husband and I weren’t terribly worried, but as the day progressed and his condition didn’t, we decided to head to the emergency room.

While we endured our first emergency room visit with our little boy, a scary experience that resulted in a diagnosis of croup, a steroid shot, and a nebulizer treatment, our family used their nervous energy to decorate the house for the party. My father-in-law even mowed the lawn. It was incredibly sweet, and when we got home from the hospital we had a party celebrating the first year of our little boy’s life.

The Significance of a Yellow Birthday Party

Sometime in April or May, my son started asking me for a “yellow birthday party.” Initially, this kind of intimidated me. I wasn’t exactly sure what a yellow birthday party was. So I asked him what he would like at his yellow birthday party.

“Um, ye-whoa cake and ye-whoa cupcakes and ye-whoa candles, and ye-whoa baboons.”

With these instructions in mind, I did what any one would do in this time of creative crisis; I searched Pinterest. And then I got excited because people have actually thrown yellow parties before and they were adorable! So I gathered all of these ideas together and made my own Pinterest Board: Noah’s 3rd Birthday Inspiration Board.

And then, I got SUPER excited because think of all the yellow food! Bananas, pineapple, cheese, Goldfish crackers, and lemonade. And then I got even MORE super excited because those are all perfect toddler foods! My son has come up with the BEST toddler themed birthday party ever!

So I made my Pinterest inspiration board and typed up a Word Document listing all needed party supplies, a guest list, food, and decorations. In May. (If you are trying to decide which part of that to make fun of; the part where I actually devoted a Word Document to my son’s party or the part where I did that in May, go ahead and know my family made fun of me for both.)

My son is so excited about this party. He has been telling people for months that he is having a “ye-whoa birthday party in Sep-ember.” And I have been planning the yellow birthday party in September since May.

For months, my son and I have slowly been gathering yellow things when we see them at the store, collecting them all carefully in the guest room closet. Throughout the summer I have slowly bought out most of the yellow things in the Richmond area. It’s like when you are pregnant and all of a sudden you notice all of the pregnant bellies and babies around you. But this time, I notice all things yellow.

I have also been preparing the house with diligent cleaning and yard work. Last week I re-organized the master closet, the linen closet, the guest bathroom closet, and thoroughly cleaned the entire house. I arranged for people to come and power wash the deck, re-mulch the back yard, and spray for mosquitoes this week before the big day, September 1st.

And then last Wednesday, after a particularly long day at home with the toddler, I went to the grocery store by myself when my husband got home. It was as much for my own sanity as it was for our need of milk.

While I was there, I decided to go ahead and order the cupcakes and balloons.

And that was it. Those were the last items on my list. After months of planning, all of the steps are done. Now, we just have to wait and have the party. Which means that my son is turning three.

The reality of that hit me as I began my drive home from the store, and found myself sobbing at a red light. My tears continued to fall as I wiped them away and drove the familiar route from the grocery store to my house. My baby is turning three.

September 1st is hard for me. It is the anniversary of one of the worst days of my life; a difficult birth experience I still have not mustered the courage or words to share.

But it is also the birthday of my son, the center of my world, my sweet boy that has changed my life in so many amazing ways. And this year, my baby will be three.

It’s amazing to see him now in all his three-ness, and at the same time see him at all of his life stages; his newborn helplessness, his baby coos, his beginning words, his toddling steps, his ever expanding world view.

Is this what being a parent is always like? Having the ability to see not only the person before you but also the child that they grew from? Knowing them not only for who they are now, but for who they were and for who they have always been? Having a love for them that is so intense it sometimes threatens to overpower you?

September 1st seems to sneak up on me every year with an overwhelming surge of mixed emotions. An anniversary of a hardship blended with the birthday of my greatest gift. And this year, the emotional pondering of my mixed blessings of motherhood are wrapped up in the intricate details of an extensively planned yellow birthday party.

The Lullaby

“Will you sing me a song Mommy?”

A smile flirts across my lips as I begin to sing a song I knew from long ago:

Toss a penny in a well

Make a wish,  you never can tell

Trust your heart and believe come what may

That anything can happen, 

If you let it happen

Anything can happen today

His eyes begin to flutter. His blinks begin to get longer.

His breathing begins to deepen and he curls up closer to my side.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance

Don’t look down each time that you dance

True romance comes right out of the blue

So anything can happen 

If you let it happen

Anything can happen for you

Heavy eyelids and peaceful breathing begin to fall into a sleepy rhythm.

Who knows maybe right around the corner

Your future is waiting for you

Don’t be afraid to take a chance

Don’t look down each time that you dance

Letting go is the only thing to do;

Then anything can happen

If you let it happen

Anything can happen for you

oo oo ooo oooooooo

He sighs as he moves in a bit closer and I watch as his final blink turns into closed eyes.

He is sleeping.

And I hope he is dreaming of hope and possibility and his very own happily ever after.

Good night my sweet little one.

*This song is called “Anything Can Happen” by Linda Eder from her album entitled “It’s No Secret Anymore.” I sang this solo my junior year of high school. There are many of my old performance pieces I have long forgotten, but this one has stayed with me. I must have been meant to remember it all these years so that I could sing it to my son every night.*

Five Years of Marriage

Five years ago, I woke up in a hotel room next to my sister and my two best friends. My other best girl friends were sharing the room next to us.

I spent my morning giggling with my girl friends. I took a leisurely shower and then had my hair and make up done in our room. I remember the make up artist saying, “You are so calm! You could do this everyday!”

I felt calm. I felt good. I was excited and happy and surrounded by the people I loved. I was ready.

After a calm day of getting beautiful, we headed to the event location.

I put on a white dress.

I sipped some champagne.

We took some pictures.

And then I got married.

As my mother in law would later describe it, my wedding was 98 % perfect.

And it was.

We had an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception. We danced the night away and I was in the midst of so many people who had shaped my life.

In five years we have lived in three places, celebrated a graduation and worked multiple jobs, become parents (to cats and a baby), and endured many ups and downs.

Five years changes a lot of things.

But nothing will ever change the fondness on which I look back on my wedding day and reflect on the beauty and excitement that the promise of that beginning held.

So, today, my husband and I will celebrate five years of marriage with a massage, dinner, and a night in a fancy Richmond hotel.

Cheers to celebrations, beginnings, and the accomplishment of five years of life intertwined with the life of another.

Project Marriage

Through luck (and Twitter) I discovered an inspirational website called Project Marriage.

Three women have joined together to create this site with the goal of helping others put some “oomph” back into their relationships.

They have even designed a section of weekly marriage challenges to help you re-discover why you said those vows in the first place.

I adore this website and the opportunity it gives for interaction and support.

That’s why I am truly honored to be guest posting there today, and sharing just a bit of my marriage story.

Ironically, my guest post falls at a time when my own marriage could use a bit of re-inventing.

Despite the trials of marriage and the way it tends to get lost under the monotony of daily life, I love the message of this website and the way it encourages us to focus on our own relationship stories.

After all, with out our story, there could not be his.

Come join me as I share a glimpse into my marriage, and then browse the site! You may find some take away advice and a little bit of spice for your evening. 🙂

See you there!

Goodnight Words

Sleepy kisses were handed out as we all adjusted covers and nuzzled into pillows.

The toddler still sleeps here snuggled in the middle most nights, even though we all know babyhood has past.

My little boy is at peace here with Mommy and Daddy and though we do the sleep-in-your-own-bed thing, we really like him here, too.

Darkness surrounds us but we gaze at a battery-powered stars and moon that cast a sky on our ceiling.

“Goodnight little family,” I say.

“I love you,” says my husband.

“Mommy, Daddy?”  questions the toddler.

“Yes, sweet boy?” we respond.

“You guys are taking good care of me.”

It is dark, but I could still feel my husband and I lock eyes. I can feel his heart swell in rhythm with mine and make out the dimples of his smile in the moonlight as it mirrors my emotion.

“That’s such a nice thing to say, buddy,” says my husband with a smile.

“Thank you so much. You are such a sweet boy. I love you,” I reply, struggling to find words to convey my emotion.

“I love you too, guys,” says our sweet boy as he cuddled his Curious George lovey close and snuggled in to sleep.

And so we drifted into slumber, falling asleep to lullabies of sleepy breathing and toddler validation. Goodnight husband, goodnight little boy, goodnight words that have warmed my heart and filled my soul.

Goodnight.

Stop and See

Often, in daily life I forget to see my son. I see him every day, but my view of him is hindered by the constant toddler tornado I see as he runs around and busies himself with the exploration of his world. My view of him is muddled in the daily “Mommy I need this” and “Mommy come do that.” I lose sight of him as I put away toys and wash dishes and try to scrub the strawberry stain out of his favorite shirt. I forget to just enjoy him as I fix his juice and warm his food. As I wipe his mouth and bottom and drive him to activities. As I play with him while thinking about the things I have waiting for me on my grown up to-do list.

A few weeks ago, we had a family photo session. When we received the pictures, I got teary. There he was. My son. And in this captured moment of stillness, I SAW him.

He is beautiful. 

In these pictures, I saw him for who he is. I noticed the redness of his hair that I often take for granted. I marveled at the deepness and darkness of his eyes. I delighted at the sweet smile that so often plays across his lips and the sometimes mischievous look that lights up his face.

I saw his smallness and his bigness all at the same time. I saw the beauty and wonder and blessing that is my little boy.

I saw the way he loves us, his Mommy and Daddy. And I saw the way we love him more than anything else in this world.

In these captured moments, these captured memories, I stopped and saw our family. I saw my little boy and the love I so often forget to see in the chaos and monotony of daily life. I got to stop and see my life, and remember what a beautiful thing it is.

Linking up today with the lovely Galit and Alison with my favorite link up; Memories Captured.

*The pictures were done by Amy Robinson Photography located in Richmond, VA. If you are in or around the Richmond area, you should definitely look into hiring her! We adore her both for her talent and personality. You can find her here: http://www.amyrobinsonphoto.com/.

A Whole New World

The music floated up and drifted over onto our side of the fence. Cars began to line the street and people starting flocking to our neighbor’s house. It was time for the party.

Our neighbor had been planning a surprise birthday party for her husband for months. We had spent the day grooming our yard so we wouldn’t be those neighbors with the embarrassing yard in anticipation of the event. Our excitement was comparable to our neighbor’s. A surprise party! For a grown up! A night out of the house mingling with other adults! It was a novelty.

Of course, we had to bring the toddler. The party was right next door and we figured we wouldn’t be there terribly long. Plus our toddler loves our neighbors.

We walked across the yard and made our appearance. The awkwardness set in as it often does in new social scenarios with new people. We quickly conquered our fears with some adult beverages and by engaging the toddler in a round of let’s-eat-a-hot-dog-with-ketchup. Ketchup is the best thing in the world (if you’re two.) We met up with our neighbors, got some introductions, and found our social groove. We had fun. We interacted in adult conversations and drank adult beverages. We enjoyed a social scene we rarely get to be a part of.

The toddler found wonder in the croquet set, the hammock, and the multi-colored lights strung from the trees. He delighted in the grilled hot dogs and was elated by the birthday cake production. He enjoyed sitting by the fire pit and watching it’s blaze while Mommy and Daddy talked and laughed with other grown ups.

As the night began to wane, I found myself drawing away from the adultness. I enjoyed the weight and the closeness of my toddler in my lap while watching the flames dance in a fire pit as much as I enjoyed the conversations. I enjoyed his amazement at the sparking fireworks even more than the adult beverages. And I loved watching him dance to the music and spinning him around in circles even more than I enjoyed being out of the house.

At one point, I overheard someone say, “Is the child still here?” Her tone implied that his presence was ruining her evening, even though he had been well-behaved all night. I knew then that it was time to leave.

For you see, as much as I enjoyed the novelty of a grown up party, that’s really no longer my world. This group was a mix of people who were single and people who were students, couples who were engaged or married, people who worked in professional careers or had their own businesses, but we were the only people there with a child.

I remember those stages of life. The school work and the professors. The talk of a dating scene and nights at bars. The wedding planning and future dreaming. The married before children bits. The pressures of a job. But no one else in this group knows about my whole new world.

They don’t yet know about sleep deprived nights and birth stories and whether or not to breastfeed. They don’t yet know about the land of sippy cups and legos and sleepy cuddles and slobbery kisses. They don’t yet know about the world that I am immersed in.

The hubs was enjoying himself. He didn’t want to leave the party and go home to parenthood.

So as the night continued to ease into late, the hubs stayed at a grown up party and drank grown up drinks and talked about grown up things. But I took my little boy home, changed him into pajamas, and snuggled him on the couch as we settled in to watch an episode of Caillou before we went to bed. And I realized as I snuggled my sweet little boy, that there was nowhere else I would rather be.

As much fun as it was to dip my toes back into the grown up waters for a few hours, I feel much more at ease in comfy clothes chasing butterflies or cuddling on the couch with my little one. Despite my previous roles of student and single, teacher and professional, engaged and married, I have finally found the role I was always meant to play. I am most myself here, in this exhilarating world of motherhood.