Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, music, and family traditions. Although I am Santa's number-one fan, as a Christian, I'm always mindful that the reason for the season is a miracle birth.

For anyone battling infertility, Christmas is a season of emotional landmines. Aside from the "miracle birth" narrative, the entire season is focused on families and children. You see them while Christmas shopping. Happy little faces beam at you from family photo Christmas cards. All your friends talk about is what their children want and what they plan to give them. When you are childless and very much want not to be, your heart and your spirit take a beating during what to seemingly everyone else is a joyous time.

I went through two Christmases battling infertility. The first was early in my battle. I was sad and getting a growing sense something was off, but we weren't officially infertile yet, just trying to get pregnant with no luck. By the second in 2007, I was battle-scarred by seven rage-filled months on Clomid, several invasive and embarrassing tests, and two misfires on IUIs. (The first had to be scrapped due to the need for more genetic testing-I was a carrier for cystic fibrosis, so J had to be tested and we had to postpone the IUI. Luckily, he was not a carrier. The second scheduled, but first actual, IUI failed right around Thanksgiving. It was hard to feel thankful.)

I really wanted to take the month of December off. I knew Christmas was going to be hard on me and I felt like taking a break from the hormones, the trigger shot, the knowing-every-second-of-every-day-where-I-am-in-my-cycle, the two-week wait, the progesterone pills I had to put in my vajayjay twice a day everyday after the IUI, all of it. I saw nothing but heartache ahead.

J is the one who convinced me to go through it all again that December. It amazes me to think back on that now, as there were definitely points in our journey where he was ready to stop if I was, where he felt like it was too much to put myself through, and I was adamantly not going to stop until there was a baby in my arms. At the moment I faltered, he boosted my spirit. Our chances on getting pregnant on the first IUI were 8 percent. The chances on the second IUI were 15 percent, almost double. In J's mind, that was reason enough to try again. I'll never know exactly why he was so confident that we should proceed in December, but I'm forever grateful he was steadfast and supportive and kept me going.

We went to our RE's office on the morning of December 14th, 2007, to check things out via the oh-so-fun vajayjay ultrasound. The previous month, none of my follicles looked promising. On this day, I had two OK follicles and one very large, VERY PROMISING follicle. It was absolutely the first time on any of my MANY mortifying vajayjay ultrasounds that I could actually "see" what the doctor was looking for, and he was very pleased. Of course, it was only one lovely follicle, but that was more than I had ever had develop properly before. He recommended we do the trigger shot that night and come in two days later for the IUI. My Mom and Daddy came over that night so Mom could help me with the shot. (J hates needles and I couldn't bear to give it to myself. My Mom was practiced in giving her sister insulin shots, so she took the job. Love my Mom. Of course, she would do anything to be a Nana!)

On the morning of Saturday, December 16th, 2007, J and I went to the RE's office and submitted ourselves to our various indignities. We went home and I spent the next two weeks attempting to distract myself in all ways possible. I really wasn't in the Christmas spirit. Mostly, I expected the worst and braced myself for it.

My pregnancy test at my RE's was scheduled for the morning of New Year's Eve. I was off work and J and I had made no plans to celebrate since I figured I'd be home sobbing into the remnants of an entire chocolate cake, while watching the ball drop in Times Square-a fitting end to my hellish year.

I went for the test first thing, then drove to my parents' house to hang out with them...J was at work. I didn't expect to hear news till the end of the day. A mere two hours later my phone rang and my doctor's words were "I hope you weren't going to make a New Year's resolution to lose weight this year, because you're going to gain a lot of weight!" I was like, "What?!" and started crying and then he said I was pregnant.

I'll never forget turning to look at my parents and seeing tears streaming down my Daddy's face. I immediately called J to tell him the good news...I hate that he wasn't with me, but since we weren't expecting good news, we hadn't really thought about it. J came home from work early that evening and we went out for dinner and smiled and laughed all night. My heart has never felt so light. We're pregnant, we're finally having a baby, we kept saying. We couldn't believe it.

Now, on the other side of my infertility battle, I'm back to loving Christmas again. Every year, during the Christmas season, I remember the circumstances surrounding Sophie's miracle birth. Although she was actually born in August, she was conceived at Christmas. She's my Christmas miracle. I feel incredibly blessed and extremely grateful. The holidays are sweeter than ever before with Sophie in them.

Sophie and me at "Peter Pan" this week.

Sophie as an Angel in her school Christmas Program this week. It's been a busy week!

But every year, I pray for those who battle on. For all the women and men silently suffering, afraid to open Christmas cards, tearing up at touching holiday commercials, wondering why they still wait for their child. I pray for them because I've been there. I pray for their miracles.

Merry Christmas to you and all the miracles in your lives.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's a Not-So-Glam Day in the Neighborhood

Recently, I really enjoyed reading a post from Nilsa at SoMi Speaks about her typical day as a working mom. So, with her permission, I thought I'd outline my day in a similar fashion. Read on, then tell me about yours!

One of my go-to work outfits...bathroom fashion show in effect.

Wake-up. On the four days I work (Monday-Thursday), my alarm begins going off at 5:50 a.m. On a good day, I hit snooze four times and get up at 6:30. This allows me to be dressed and ready to leave the house by 7:30, which means Sophie makes it to school in time for breakfast at 8, and I get to work by 8:15. On a not-so-good day, I get up at 7, am ready to go by 8, and Sophie and I go through the Starbucks Drive-Thru for "breakfast in the car," before she arrives at school at 8:20-30, allowing me to get to the office by 8:45.

Shower. I try to keep my showers short, maybe 10 minutes. I get in, I use body wash, I shave under my arms (every day) and my legs (almost every day even in winter-can't stand going to yoga with stubble), I shampoo, then sometimes I shampoo again to give my hair more body, and then I condition.

Get ready. Once out of the shower, I brush and floss my teeth, clean and moisturize my face, put on deodorant and perfume, spray detangler on my hair and comb it, then dry my hair 75 percent of the way dry. I let the rest of it air-dry while I spend 10 minutes or so putting on makeup. My makeup routine, which I've been doing so long I can do pretty quickly, actually has quite a few steps. I put on lip balm and Neutrogena eye brightener to get rid of dark circles, then swipe on a light base and powder. Next, I use Benefit's Hello Flawless powder concealer to hide any blemishes or bags. Then, I put on lipstick, gloss, and blush. Finally, I brush and fill in my eyebrows a little, before putting on eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. I know this sounds like a lot, but the name of the blog is Glam-O-Mommy for a reason! ;) Then, I throw on clothes and jewelry. ( I usually have at least an idea of what I'm wearing nailed down the night before.)

Sophie. While I am doing my wake-up/shower/get ready routine, J gets Sophie up, gets her dressed in her school uniform, and brushes and styles her hair. All I have to do then when I am ready is inspect her (pull up socks, adjust hair things, button buttons J overlooked LOL) and grab her backpack and whatever she needs for school that day (dance clothes for ballet, money for chapel, homework), which I always have ready to go and by the door the night before. And then we are off...

First Day of Pre-K

Commute. I work downtown and it's about a 25-30 minute drive with morning traffic (15 without). Sophie's school is three blocks from my office, so I take her in and get her settled and then am at my office within minutes. It's a pretty sweet setup and I'll miss it when Sophie goes to Kindergarten next year and goes to public school closer to our house.

Breakfast. As mentioned, I strive to get Sophie to school on time for school breakfast at 8. If we are successful, then I have breakfast at work as soon as I arrive, either a protein shake I bring from home or an egg or piece of toast or something I can buy in our cafe. And usually a Coke. I don't drink coffee, so this is my morning caffeine. On the days we are not going to make school breakfast, Sophie gets very excited about "breakfast in the car" LOL. We go through Starbucks and I get myself a Peppermint Hot Chocolate and some type of breakfast sandwich and get a Horizon chocolate milk and a protein box for Sophie. Sophie happily munches on the fruit, cheese, and scone, but makes me eat the hard boiled egg.

Lunch. When I am being good and focusing on my intake of calories, I try and bring my lunch, usually a soup and sandwich and some crackers or light popcorn, and eat a quick lunch in the cafe with coworkers. I also try to drink water with lemon during the day in addition to my 1-2 Cokes a day. At other times, I go out to eat for lunch. Last week was an exceptional lunch week. Monday, I had lunch with the mom of one of Sophie's classmates who I am getting to know better. Tuesday, J, who now offices closer to our house, was downtown at our offices for meetings, so we took the opportunity to have lunch together. (We used to eat lunch together every day when he worked down here.) Wednesday, my parents had joint eye appointments close to downtown, so we met up for lunch and it was nice to have an opportunity to chat with them without Sophie, who draws all their attention when she's with us, of course! Thursday, I brought my lunch and ate in the cafe.

Pick up. I leave work promptly at 5, pick Sophie up from school, then battle afternoon traffic all the way home. The afternoon commute always seems longer to me than the morning. I usually chat with Sophie about her day for a few minutes, then call my mother and talk to her until I pull in the driveway. Sophie often falls asleep in her carseat for the rest of the ride, as she no longer naps during the day.

Dinner. I don't cook. OK, that's not totally true. A few weekends ago, I cooked a nice spaghetti dinner on a Sunday. I've got a few things I can cook, but I don't enjoy cooking and it's the last thing I want to do after I come home from work. On the days I go to yoga I don't really eat dinner myself anyway. So during the week, either: A) J decides to cook, which happens about once a week. His meals tend to be experimental in nature. B) We make something easy like sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, or macaroni and cheese. Sometimes I make chicken burgers, which are pretty healthy. Sophie also likes the kiddie Graduate meals, which are well portioned and food-group balanced, or Lunchables, which I augment with fruit. Or C) We eat out or one of us picks up food. Another option we've taken advantage of recently is the chef at Sophie's school has been making healthy dinners that you can order, pick up, and take home at the end of the day. It's $20 for a meal for four, so J usually eats the extra meal for lunch another day. The chef follows the same guidelines he does for the breakfast and lunch meals he makes for the school in terms of healthy ingredients, all food groups represented, etc. The fact that Sophie is eating well twice a day already makes me not get too hung up on what to make for dinner.

Exercise. I've been doing better at this lately. I used to Jazzercise three to four times a week pre-Sophie and do a Boot Camp class periodically, but all those classes are right after work and harder to fit in to my schedule these days. My BFF and I started going to Bikram Yoga two to three times a week about six weeks ago. We usually go at 7:30, which allows me to get home, help Sophie with pre-K homework (don't get me started), and get her something to eat. Each Bikram class is 90 minutes and we sweat and sweat and twist ourselves like pretzels and it is so hard, because I am so inflexible I might as well be a plank of wood, but it's 90 minutes where I cannot be on my cell phone and no one can talk to me except the instructor telling me how to contort myself next, so I think it's good for my mental health, if nothing else.

I am surviving...barely.

Free time. After we get Sophie to bed (around 8:30-9) or I get home from yoga (9-9:30), I usually watch whatever's stockpiled on my DVR (Castle, Modern Family, The Good Wife, Big Bang Theory, Scandal, Elementary, etc.) and check Facebook and Twitter for an hour or so, then get everything (bags, clothes, etc.) ready for the next day and go to bed.

Sleep. I usually start getting ready for bed at 10 and am at least in the bed, although maybe not asleep, by 11.

So that's my typical workday...wash, rinse, and repeat. And just to give you the idea of what the rest of my week is like...

Weekends. Since I am off every Friday, I have a lot of quality time with Sophie on the weekends. We often go to lunch and to Children's Museums or playplaces or the park or some other activity on Fridays. Saturdays, Sophie has been taking soccer for over a year, but recently switched to basketball, so we enjoy watching her in her class on Saturday mornings. Some weekends, Sophie and I have playdates with my mom friends and their kids, sometimes we go out to dinner on Saturdays as a family. We spent part of a recent Sunday at a pumpkin patch enjoying some family fun! Usually though, I spend Sunday running loads and loads of laundry, getting things ready for the work week, and going to the grocery store. I am lucky to have an understanding husband, who mostly enjoys playing games on his computer anyway, and thus doesn't mind when I want to meet my BFF out for dinner and shopping or the occasional Spurs game on a Friday or Saturday. I'm also lucky to have the Grandparentals nearby, who need a Sophie fix if they haven't seen her in awhile, and occasionally keep her overnight on a weekend, which lets J and I have date nights.

Future WNBA Player maybe?

At the Great Hill Country Pumpkin Patch in Medina, Texas

Riding like the cowgirl she is out in the Hill Country!

So what does your workday/week usually look like? Do you ever feel like you are in a rut because of the routine or are your days/weeks different? What's your favorite day of the week? (Hands down, mine is Friday Funday!) Least favorite day? (Mine is Sunday. See: LAUNDRY.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

To My Daughter, Sophie

Dear Sophie,

Right now, you are four years old. You are tall and beautiful. You are smart and funny. You are shy in certain situations and a total chatterbox in others. In other words, you are PERFECT.

I want you to know that I'm always going to love you. Nothing's ever going to change that. No matter what happens in your life, I'm here to love and support you.

When I was growing up, Nana was always there to guide me. She was, and is, my best friend. But sometimes growing up, it's hard to listen to your mother. I know, in a few short years, you may not always want to listen to me or take my advice. However, as I've grown up and become a mother to you, I've learned along the way that Nana is pretty smart. So I want to pass along to you things she taught me, and things I believe, and notes about the kind of person I'd like you to be. I'll love you no matter what, but just keep these in mind, okay?

Be kind, especially to older people.
Kindnesses are easily given to others and much appreciated. It's important to be kind and respectful to all people, but especially always try to be kind and show respect to older people. Both Nana and Papa have always been so respectful of their elders and I believe I've grown up to be the same. Older people are sometimes forgotten in society, but they were young once and have amazing stories to tell if you take a moment to listen.

Be a giver.
Nana has told me that she would rather be a giver in life, even when that giving isn't always reciprocated. She is incredibly generous of her time and talents to those in her life, especially me and you. She's someone who always considers what she can do to help a friend or family member. She sends flowers, she makes food, she runs errands for others. She lives her life with a service mentality. I try very hard to live this way in my own life, although I'm not sure I'm as good at it as she is.

Don't change yourself to keep a friend or a boyfriend in your life.
Nana always made me feel very confident in myself. I hope greatly that I can impart this feeling to you as you grow up and encounter challenges in life. Sometimes people will ask you to do something or go along with something you don't really want to. Trust your gut. Be yourself. If a friend is truly a friend or if a boy really likes you, they will like you just as you are and not force you to be someone you're not or do things you don't want to do to keep your relationship with them.

I spent many years as a single person, watching some of my girlfriends change their personalities with every guy they dated. It's okay to take an interest in something important to a guy you like or are dating (for example, I'd only seen one hockey game before I met your Dad); it's another thing to change your personality from one extreme to the next to try to make something work (it's not like I took up playing hockey and watching every game and only talking about hockey when we started dating LOL).

Daddy would tell you that I'm telling a story here and that I actually did a lot of hiking with him when we were dating and first married and I do not hike now, and that's kind of true, but we had a lot more free time TO hike back then than we do now. And I still hike occasionally!

Make special occasions special.
Even when I was little and we didn't have a lot of disposable income, Nana always tried to make special occasions special. She's big and possibly over the top on Christmas and Easter and birthdays now, as you know, but she has always made things special even when money was scarce. In fact, Nana told me that as a girl she used to wrap empty boxes and put them under the Christmas tree just to make the tree look pretty at Christmas. This story simultaneously breaks my heart, thinking of her growing up with so little (growing up poor as one of 10 children), and makes me totally indulge all the ways in which she goes over the top at Christmas now, because she deserves it.

Some of my favorite memories of "special" occasions with Nana are simple things. When I was 10, we went camping in the Rocky Mountains. One afternoon, Nana packed up an awesome picnic lunch and we took it out into the middle of a meadow in the mountains and ate it. Nana is kind of famous for making the day special with picnic lunches. Remember when we celebrated Fourth of July at Blanco State Park last year and I made a picnic lunch (like actually cooked things for it?!). Well, you definitely have Nana to thank for that.

When you were three weeks old, Daddy had gone back to work and I was home alone with you, sleep-deprived and in desperate need of a few minutes to shower. Nana came over one day and not only took care of you so I could shower, but brought all the makings of a lovely tea for us to enjoy. And not just the food...the serving dishes for the tea and soup and desserts. She set the table so lovely, as if it was tea for the Queen! I felt clean and refreshed after my shower, and you in your bouncy chair, me with my freshly washed hair, and Nana, enjoyed a lovely tea together. Just a random weekday that she made feel special.

I hope someday you remember days and events that Nana and I made special for you and you carry this forward in your own life with your own child(ren).

Stay clear of tanning, tattoos, and crazy piercings.
You only get one body in this life and I hope you are kind to it. For me, I wish I had listened more closely to Nana when she tried to get me to wear sunscreen as a child, because today I look at the freckles and age spots on my chest and hands and wish I could take them all back.

You have GORGEOUS skin right now, Pumpkin, and I am trying to do what I can to keep it that way. Luckily, you accept sunblock graciously most of the time. As you get older, you may find you want tanner skin than you have naturally. If you must tan, SPRAY TAN ONLY. I spray tan occasionally, mostly around big life events. The rest of the time I don't worry about it much. These days, I admire naturally pale women and YOU and wish I had your porcelain skin. I've never used a tanning bed and you shouldn't either. Growing up on a farm, Papa has had several skin cancers removed and I get my skin checked regularly. If I can leave you with one beauty tip in life, let it be this: TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN.

Oh, and um, please don't get any tattoos or crazy piercings. (One set in the ears is OK...I once had two-not worth it). Tattoos (and piercings) seem to be more accepted and prevalent in society these days, but I just can't get behind them. Nana kind of raised me with the belief that classy southern women don't get tattoos. Yes, this sounds judgmental and, well, I guess it is. Mostly, I just think there's not much I'd want to put on my body for my whole life. Maybe your name or your initials, but that's it! Not even Daddy makes the cut there-just you. And your skin and your body change so much that something that might look good at first, might not look great later.

However, if you someday feel really strongly about getting a tattoo or piercing something, please talk to me first and I PROMISE to try and have an open mind about it and I will go with you to get it. Maybe you can just do it somewhere on your body that isn't quite so visible to others, just for me? Please at least give me that! :)

Don't drink and drive. Ever. Mostly, don't drink.
Nana's father was an alcoholic. His addiction was this horrible secret in her life until he abandoned their family before her senior year of high school. Five years later, he committed suicide. I never knew him, but through what she shared with me about him, I knew what his addiction did to her. Nana never drank when I was growing up and neither did Papa. They still don't, champagne toasts at weddings aside.

Out of respect for Nana and all she had been through, I never drank alcohol in high school. Ever. I went to parties and drank soda. I was the designated driver for all my friends. I didn't care what they thought of me, I did it so she would never worry. I did the same in college. I was infamous for my non-drinking. I never drank until I was legal to do so. I spent some of my single years drinking socially in bars and clubs, but my friends and I always took turns being the designated driver.

Since I've had you, I rarely drink at all. And I don't miss it. Drinking isn't that exciting to me. It usually gives me a headache anyway. I hope you will feel the same. I hope you will have the courage to be different and not drink just because "everyone else is doing it." But I won't be mad at you IF you do it. I'll only be mad at you if you don't call me to come pick you up! I'll only be mad at you if you drive drunk or get in a car with a driver who is drunk. SO CALL ME, OKAY?!

Along these lines, just say no to smoking and drugs also. Just say no.
Smoking will kill you if you do it long enough. You know how I give you what I call "Hard Sugar"? Where I kiss you really hard on the cheek and you giggle and ask me to do it again? Well, my favorite uncle, Nana's brother, my Uncle Red, always gave me "Hard Sugar" when I was little. Giving it to you now is one way I remember him and honor his memory. He was a lifelong smoker. When I was 19, he died of lung cancer caused by smoking, way too young. The entire summer before he died, he stayed with us while he was undergoing cancer treatment. He was in so much pain, he couldn't breathe laying down and slept sitting up, and it was so, so awful. It broke my heart. Please don't ever, even for one minute, smoke a cigarette.

As for drugs, re-read what I said about alcohol above and just know that any momentary high one experiences on drugs cannot compensate for all the awful lows that addiction, out-of-control behavior, and an expensive habit automatically bring. Drugs destroy lives, so just say no.

Love yourself.
This can be very hard to do, especially as a woman in a society focused on outer beauty. Are there things I would change about myself if I could? Sure. I'd have smaller feet, a straighter nose, and a flatter stomach. In reality though, my big feet support how tall I am, which is one of my best traits-I love being tall! If my nose was straighter, I might not look like myself anymore, like Jennifer Grey post-Dirty Dancing (we'll watch this movie together when you are older). If my stomach were flatter, well, it would probably mean you didn't exist, and although it is often the bane of my existence (mostly when I see it in photos), my poochy stomach is a badge of motherhood and it is a badge I wear proudly because I fought a hard battle to earn it and bring you into this world.

In high school, I weighed 112 pounds and thought I had big hips. I wish I could go back in time and shake 1989-1991-me and make her realize how lucky she was to be so thin without any effort. When Nana looks at pictures of herself as a young girl, she now realizes she was beautiful in a way she never did at the time. I look at you and think you are perfect. You are going to be so tall and you have the most beautiful coloring and eyelashes a mile long. I cannot imagine you will ever need to wear makeup you are so naturally lovely. So love yourself, try not to compare yourself to others, and appreciate even what you think are your imperfections-they are what make you my Sophie.

My darling daughter, I love you so much. I hope that as you grow up, you and I have the type of mother-daughter relationship and friendship that I have with Nana. I hope you will always want to tell me your stories and share with me your secrets and dreams. I hope you will call me, often, for whatever reason, just because.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Adventures on the Road

Our vacation to go to my cousin's wedding turned out amazing. We had so much fun.

This was our first real road trip with Sophie. Prior to this, we'd only driven 2.5 hours to Corpus Christi with her and flown everywhere else. This was driving from San Antonio, Texas, to Crestview, Florida, which is a good 12-14 hours. AND Sophie was newly potty trained, so we had no idea what to expect. However, Sophie did not have any accidents on our trip and, best of all, every place we stopped was an exciting adventure for her.

Carseat, oversized sunglasses, princess blanket...just how I roll.

We left out at 6:15 a.m. and drove across town to beat San Antonio rush hour traffic, then stopped to have breakfast tacos at Taco Cabana. Sophie was excited for tacos and excited to point out all the suns on the wall! She was excited to go potty!

Then, we drove over halfway to Houston and stopped for gas in Weimar, Texas. When we walked in the door, the convenience store had a bull that you could ride for $1, so after we went potty, Sophie rode it and loved it!

Hilariously, the song "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins played
during the entire bull ride. Only in Texas.

At truck stops, she marveled at the big scales you could weigh yourself on in the restrooms. She pointed out when we were shown on the security camera TVs-"We're on TV, Mommy!" She napped a little and watched videos and played games on her Fisher-Price iXL while we drove. She never complained once. What normally would've been a long, ho-hum drive was actually fun since we saw it through her eyes. :)

We stopped in Biloxi, Mississippi, and spent the night at one of my favorite casinos, the Beau Rivage. When we went down to have dinner, Sophie saw all the slot machines and wanted to play. I told her those were "Big Girl Games." After a delicious meal, I went to play slots and J took Sophie to the Kiddie Arcade, aka the "Little Girl Games."

Amazingly, after losing almost $80 on quarter slots, I hit it big and won $1350 on one of them! It was so exciting! I've never won that big before. When I went back up to the room, I told Sophie, "I won at the Big Girl Games!" Sophie ran and got some little plastic fish and a ball and said "I won at Little Girl Games, Mommy!" LOL. We were all winners!

Sunrise, Gulf of Mexico, Biloxi, MS

The next morning we went for a swim in the beautiful pool and looked out over the ocean, then got dressed and checked out. We headed to Mobile, Alabama, about 30 minutes away, to meet my cousin Cindy for lunch. It was great to see her and catch up. Then, we drove on through Mobile ("We're in a tunnel, Mommy!") and Pensacola, Florida, and finally arrived at our destination: Crestview.

Several of my cousins and aunts and uncles live in Crestview, but the wedding was actually taking place in a little town called Florala, Alabama, which is 25 miles north. It's where my parents grew up and I'm related to most of the town on one side or the other by marriage. The only place to stay in Florala is a bed and breakfast, but that is where my cousin Caitlin was having the reception and her wedding party was staying there, so we had to drive back and forth from Crestview everyday.

Main Street, Florala...small town, big chair!

After checking in to our hotel, we drove up to Florala and checked on my dad and uncles who were putting up lights for the outdoor reception at the B&B. Then, we drove to my grandparents' farm to see my mom and aunts and the bride and her sister, who were working on wedding decor. Then, we drove back down to Crestview to have dinner at my uncle's house.

The next day, J and I had planned to take Sophie down to the beach in Ft. Walton, 25 miles south. I was born there and the beaches there are some of the prettiest in the world, but I can hardly ever break away to go when we visit. My cousin's wife, Ashley, and her four-year-old niece Kelsey, ended up coming with us, and actually directed us to the exact stretch of my beach my parents always brought me to when I was Sophie's age.

Nothing like the white sand beaches of Ft. Walton. I played here at Sophie's age.

After our fun beach excursion, we drove back up to the farm for dinner. It was fun to see Sophie playing and running around and enjoying the farm. I only wish my grandparents were alive to see it. She's more of a farm girl than I ever was, for sure. :)

Sophie runs around on the farm her Papa grew up on in Alabama.

My grandparents would've loved to see her enjoying the farm so much!

The next day, Sophie and J stayed at the hotel to swim and hang out, while I headed up to the farm to help prepare wedding decorations. My aunt does interior decorating as part of her job, so she literally made every flower arrangement, bouquet, corsage, and table decoration, with our family's help! It was A LOT of work, and I remember now why I paid someone to do all that FOR me, but it turned out beautiful. And it was fun to hang out with my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and my mom and dad and work on all of that together.

That night, we attended the wedding rehearsal. Sophie and her fellow flower girl Zoey followed directions well, but got a little bored standing up front while everyone worked out the ceremony details, so they began swinging their flower girl buckets around a little, much to my chagrin. However, when I tried to tell Sophie to please stop, my aunt, the mother of the bride, told me to let the girls do whatever they wanted to...swing their buckets, sit down, whatever. It would be cute no matter what.

Finally, the big day came. Sophie and I had to be up at the B&B at 2 p.m. to get her hair done. The wedding didn't start till 6. I was a little worried about keeping her entertained and out of trouble for four hours, especially when the lake and a playground were just down the hill from where we would be.

Getting her hair done. This was the first time she had ever had her hair curled,
a fact my cousins, former child pageant girls, couldn't believe!

I needn't have worried. Sophie was in the zone-very focused on her flower girl role! She played games while the stylist did her hair and then hung out in the B&B, either playing games or going with me to check on my cousin Caitlin's progress and see her in her dress. I ended up running around doing things for Caitlin and Kenna, her sister who was the Maid of Honor, or my aunt. Everyone was impressed with how well behaved Sophie was-frankly I was pretty impressed LOL.

Waiting to go down the aisle.

At 5:20, we got her into her dress and at 5:40, we crossed over to the church. I thought Sophie would run to J and my parents when she saw them seated in the church, but she merely waved and said, "Hi Daddy! Hi Nana and Papa!" and continued to her spot on the side of the church. In. The. Zone.

I was seriously proud of her! J, smiling at right, was too.

She waited patiently and then, when it was time, went sweetly down the aisle throwing flower petals like a pro. She got into place by Kenna and Zoey and quietly stood there holding her bucket for the first few minutes of the service, looking out at all the people who just a few months before would've made her cry from shyness.


And then, probably getting a little bored, she began to swing her bucket. One of the bridesmaids, thinking she would nip that in the bud, reached out and grabbed the bucket mid-swing, and attempted to take it away from her. In the audience, J and I froze and silently freaked, "Girl, what are you doing? If you get the bucket away from her, she will cry and ruin the wedding!"

Never fear...Sophie just looked at the girl and tugged the bucket back away from the bridesmaid without making a sound. The audience, made up of mostly our relatives, burst into laughter, totally on Sophie's side of the debacle. The bridesmaid turned red, completely embarrassed. I felt sorry for her. Sophie didn't swing her bucket again and kept one eye on that girl for the rest of the ceremony!

Zoey, the other flower girl, had her own moment of levity when she kept patting a pillar standing up behind them and knocked it over! Kenna caught it and had to stand it back up while everyone laughed. Then, Zoey sidled right up to Sophie and began pulling feathers off her dress. Sophie just stood there and looked at her silently and bore up well, considering she was besieged on all sides LOL.

Zoey, Caitlin, and Sophie

The moral of the story is, don't have little kids in your wedding if you want all the attention on you. :)

Sophie, Nana, and Papa after the ceremony.

Now that Sophie had performed her job beautifully, I could finally relax and enjoy myself (being the mother of the flower girl is kind of stressful!). We headed back to the B&B and spent the next three hours dancing up a storm! Sophie stayed out on the floor dancing with J, me, my parents, and trying to do all the line dances and everything!

Ashley (my cousin's wife), me, and my cousin Cari at the reception.

J, Sophie, and me get the party started!

My sweethearts.

Boogie-ing with my little dancing queen!

Thankfully, Sophie isn't old enough to be embarrassed by us yet. LOL.

The next day, we began the drive home. We drove all the way to Lake Charles, Louisiana, and spent the night at another fun casino, the L'Auberge du Lac. Sophie and I spent an hour at the gorgeous pool, and Sophie kept showing me her new dance moves in the shallow end until the pool closed for the night. J got her ready for bed while I stole off to the casino for a little bit (good thing I don't live close to any casinos or I might have a problem LOL), My lucky streak continued-I won $283 on quarter slots, only investing $40 to do so.

We arrived home safely the next day. The entire trip went better than I expected at every turn, especially Sophie's performance as flower girl in the wedding! Sophie continued her trend of growing up and showing us new sides of herself on every trip we take. I look forward to more adventures on the road with her and J in the future.

What has been the best road trip you've taken with your kids?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sophie in Bloom

Everything is in bloom right now in Texas-bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and other spring wildflowers, bright green grass, and my daughter Sophie.

It's the spring of Sophie.

Sophie's always been a pretty reserved baby and child, much like my VERY reserved Canadian husband, J. While she talks at home, when confronted with a stranger in public asking her questions, Sophie's the kid who doesn't answer. And this is kind of okay with me on the stranger-danger front, but as a person who is a people-pleaser by nature, I find myself answering FOR her and excusing her silence with the comment "She's a little shy!" Which I know is bad and I shouldn't make excuses for her and call her shy-it's OK and that's just her personality. But the people-pleaser in me can't help myself sometimes.

At the Japanese Tea Garden, one of my favorite spots in San Antonio

At day school, her teacher has worried about Sophie all year, because Sophie never talks in class. She always knows the answers, does pretty much everything she's asked to do, and is generally well behaved, but she's quiet as a mouse.

Any time when she's not quiet is generally because she is uncomfortable in a new situation and full-on freaks out for the world to see. She cried every week the first six weeks she was in soccer class. In December, she freaked out at her dance recital and couldn't bring herself to dance with her class ("Mommy, everyone was LOOKING AT ME!"). In fact, she freaked out at her own birthday party last year among all her friends when she realized everyone was looking at her during the birthday song!

BUT! A change has come over Sophie in the past few months and it is amazing and delightful to witness.

She is talking more and more to her teacher in class, and not just talking-talking without being prompted BY the teacher to talk. She's also talking more in public, even to people she does not know. Now, when a lady in Target compliments how cute she is and asks her how old she is, she readily volunteers her age, complete with three fingers held up for the lady to see. This never used to happen!

Monday, at the doctor's office, Sophie told the nurse her age without even being asked. Then, when the doctor came in, she informed the doctor that her ear was bothering her, totally unprompted. She chatted away with the audiologist giving her a hearing test about the stuffed animals making noises during the test.

Sophie and her soccer coach!

In soccer, she is now completely confident in her skills and does every single part of class without getting upset or melting down. She's often the first to score a goal! Unlike most of the other kids in class, she no longer needs us to be on the field to help her during class, we only have to be nearby so she can high-five us when she does something well!

A reward from her teacher! Potty training is almost at an end for us! SO PROUD!

And y'all, to top it all off, in the last two weeks, not only did she finally begin going poop on the potty and doing it consistently (after several months of peeing on the potty only), she began GOING TO THE POTTY WITHOUT ANY PROMPTING FROM ME. Now, she just goes to the potty. On her own. When she needs to. Without me reminding her. OK, I still remind her occasionally, because I am trained to at this point, but she's going when the mood strikes her and not having accidents. THIS IS FABULOUS.

Now we just need to work on getting rid of the overnight diaper, but this is HEAVEN compared to the HELL potty training has wreaked on our life for the better part of the last two years (take note, Moms, don't start too early like I did!).

As a mother, I've just been so blown away with how she has bloomed into this tall, confident, sweet, funny, independent, polite little girl in the last few months. She climbs in and out of the car and car seat on her own. She eats without getting it all over herself. She talks and talks and talks. She says "No thank you" politely when you ask her if she needs help with something. And then does it herself! She lets me help her get dressed in the morning and do her hair without ANY fuss. She is a far cry from the tantrum-y two-year-old of last year.

Cowgirl Sophie has no fear! Don't you love the boots?
She loves things that sparkle, just like her Mama.

Another change is even more wonderful for me. Sophie, who has always been a complete Daddy's girl, practically J's shadow, who always wants Daddy for everything, has now turned her favor to me.

We've always had our Friday Fundays together when I'm off work, and she's always been all about me on those days. But any other day or moment when Daddy is around, it's always been all about him. "I want Daddy to do it! I want to sit by Daddy! I want to go with Daddy!"

Now, the tide has turned. She still loves J and probably still loves him best LOL, but I'm the one she wants. "I want Mommy to do it! I want to sit by Mommy! I want to go with Mommy!" I think this change has a lot to do with the fact that J moved offices recently. Now, instead of him taking her to school and me picking her up, as we've done for years, he's working 25 minutes away, so I take and pick her up from school every day. She's spending more time with me and I'm the one who's there more, so I'm the one she wants. And I love it!

On April 14th, Sophie's going to be a flower girl in my cousin's wedding. When I asked her if she wanted to do it last fall, Sophie said yes and has been really excited about it, but based on how she reacted to the dance recital and other situations, I was terrified about how she was going to do.

This is Sophie's flower girl dress. I call it the Bjork Swan Tutu,
although I think she looks beautiful in it. My cousin is a former pageant girl,
so I wasn't surprised the dress she chose was, um, over the top. Sophie loves it!

Now though, I'm excited, because Sophie has been in bloom all spring and walking down the aisle as a flower girl seems like an appropriate way to cap off this wonderful season. No matter WHAT happens at the wedding, I'm so proud of her and I love her so, so much.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

At Disney, Dreams Really Do Come True

I love Disney World. As a kid, I used to daydream that I lived in Disney World. I would ride all the rides during the day and by night I'd sleep in Cinderella's Castle. Occasionally, I would camp out in the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse or on Tom Sawyer's Island.

So, it was a no-brainer to want to take Sophie to Disney World. I hadn't been myself since 1994. To make it even more fun, I thought the Grandparentals could come with us and we could combine the trip with a Thanksgiving visit to my mom's sister, my favorite aunt, who is now disabled and unable to travel.

Disney Highlights:

First sighting of Cinderella's castle, or as Sophie calls it "My Castle."


The castle looked gorgeous in lights!

We spent lots of time taking buses from our resort, Shades of Green, to the parks.
Sophie loved the bus rides as much as anything else! Here she is with the Grandparentals.

My favorite part of the Animal Kingdom was the safari!

Sophie loves Chip and Dale, so we were glad to see them!

The main man, Mickey!

I loved riding in Spaceship Earth at Epcot!
Sophie loved the bubbles the Disney folks were blowing for fun!

A Francophile like me was very excited to visit the Paris section of Epcot,
but we were especially excited to encounter Marie
from one of our favorite movies, The AristoCats!

Everything we did was leading up to this...
Sophie in her Cinderella costume going to meet Cinderella
and eat dinner in the castle at Cinderella's Round Table!

Cinderella with her lord and lady in waiting.

Cinderella and her favorite subjects, Papa and Nana.

As we waited to be seated, Sophie really hit it off
with this little girl Grace who was dressed as Ariel!

Sophie and Grace were fast friends...they were so adorable
and this was one of my favorite moments of the trip!

Princesses have to twirl!

Sophie was totally starstruck when she met Cinderella!

The blue crew...Cinderella commented that we were all wearing her favorite color!

Still stunned when meeting Snow White back at our table.

Still in disbelief meeting Belle. Not sure why Belle isn't wearing her yellow princess dress.

By the time Aurora, Sleeping Beauty, came by, Sophie was warmed up and ready to chat!

Excited to meet Ariel!

It was such a magical night and Sophie is still talking about all of it months later!

Oops...Sophie turned into a pumpkin on our way back to the resort!

She was so tired she didn't even wake up as we changed her into her PJs and put her to bed!


Eating dinner at Cinderella's Castle was the fulfillment of the dreams I had of living in the castle as a little girl, but the experience was made even more amazing by how much Sophie loved it. It was worth every penny we spent...everyone there was so nice to us, the princesses were so sweet to my shy, starstruck little princess, the food was amazing, the pictures turned out wonderful...I just can't say enough good things about it. And Sophie still talks about it, so I hope that it's a memory she treasures forever. I know I will.

Overall, I think the trip was fantastic...we had some moments where we all had different ideas about what we wanted to do and everyone got on each other's nerves a little in the interminable waiting in line for rides, but despite that, our party of five had a really great time!

After we finished up at Disney, J and I took a side trip over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was super fun and deserves its own post, and then we all headed to my aunt's house to spend a few days with her and celebrate Thanksgiving, which was wonderful.

I'm so glad we did this trip when Sophie was this age. It was the perfect combination of Disney magic and family together time!

What are your favorite things to do at Disney World?