Monday, September 30, 2013

New to Two

31 Days of Writing

I am linking up with The Nester for her 31 Days of Writing Challenge. We shall see how it goes...

I have created a page/tab at underneath my header where all the #31days posts will be kept for easy accessibility. I will also be posting them to my usual timeline.

Follow along, or even join in the fun! Read about it all here


I am really excited about participating (or attempting to participate) in the 31 Days of Writing challenge hosted by The Nester! When I first started this blog we were going through fertility treatments while trying to conceive our first daughter. I was very consistent with my postings. Then pregnancy happened, and I slacked off. Ever present nausea, vomiting, and exhaustion did not lends itself well to writing. However, once our Ellie Faith was born, I started writing again to document my journey through early motherhood. I realized how much I loved it, and how I gained so much personally from blogging. Unfortunately, I have been sporadic at best over the last year. 

This blog has never been about gaining umpteen followers,  a huge readership or sponsors. Instead, over the years I have learned that writing is very therapeutic for me. Sometimes I need to write down all my thoughts, feelings, and experiences to gain the most out of life's lessons. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know I tend to race head long through life, only to find I have to stop, screachingly, several months down the road to look back, and figure out how the heck I ended up here? Particularly in all things emotional

This summer, while at the beach, I started blogging again. I was getting ready to give birth to our second daughter, our first daughter was/is entering toddler-hood (aka a requiring a whole new level of mothering/parenting!), plus I realized how much I missed writing down my journey through life.

I am a huge believer in sometimes you have to look back to see where you've been,  and where you are now, in order to give thanks. I don't want to ever let my life get so busy, I forget or gloss over the blessings, lessons, or even trials God sends my way. Blogging helps keep me accountable in this area.

While, I would love to think/believe I will actually write something every day for 31 days, I am going to be completely honest - its probably not going to happen. However, I am going to do my best to participate as much as I can. I am using this as a discipline tool in my life.

After the birth of my first daughter, I got us fairly quickly into a pretty set routine. I was new to the staying home routine, after being used to the professional world of 5 days a week. After Ellie Faith's birth, I got up early. Had devotionals. Worked out. Snuggled my baby. Blogged. Cleaned. Cooked dinner. Napped. We are only three weeks into a being a family of four, and I am giving myself time/grace to enjoy and adjust to our new normal, but I can already tell ritual and routine are not going to be as easy this go around. 

And I am ok with that, for the most part. However, I don't want to take it so easy, that I loose all sense of discipline in my free time. Yes, my free time is greatly diminished with the addition of another child, but lets be honest - I still check instagram, facebook, and twitter more then a few times a day. Read blogs. Watch a tv show or two. I have time. Yes, there are days I feel like there really should be at least 4 more hours in the day, but ultimately, if I am being completely honest, while I may not have a ton of spare time, I have plenty of time. I just need to learn to use it wisely.

The vast majority of these post will not be deep or profound. They won't be entertaining or creative. They will probably be really short, and most likely boring to most. But they will be precious to me.

Precious because I intend to simply document our day to day life as we figure out how to parent two tiny females. How to balance household chores while cherishing sweet new born snuggles. Helping the toddler become familiar with who she is created to be, yet providing discipline and boundaries along the way.

These days will be gone all too quickly, and I will miss them and wish I remembered more. So far, I have never written a post I regretted. I do wish I had written more, and captured more memories with words.

So be prepared - many posts may not be posted until/during a 3 am feeding... from my phone. And even then, who knows how coherent they will be. Maybe you can function eloquently between the hours of 2-5am. Not this girl. I will be proud if I muster up a few sentences, that contain only a few grammatical errors, along with a picture or two that I posted to instagram earlier that day.

To learn more about our family, visit my About Me page!

Here's to 31 Days of Writing together!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting used to our new normal

We are 18 days into our life as a family of four, and overall the transition has been pretty seamless. Having a c-section definitely buys you a lot more help in the immediate post partum phase. Our family and friends have been an unbelievable help! This week will be our first week without an extra set of hands, so all heck could be about to break loose. :)

However, I am very ready to start getting back into a routine again.

Quinn Collins is doing great and is such an easy baby, much like Ellie Faith. My friends are "hating me", with love, for lucking out with two easy going tiny babies.

I need to write her birth story soon... When I find the time.;)

Ellie Faith is handling her transition into big sister-hood very well. We have had a few emotional break downs but nothing out of the ordinary for female toddlerhood.

Note to all you mommies out there - should you have a csection do not show you toddler your incision in an attempt to help her understand why you can't pick her up. It might result in her wanting to constantly "see-see mommy boo boo" to give it "muah muahs" (kisses). And thats just awkward. We are practicing blowing kisses to and waving bye bye to the boo boo. Oh, and that reaching to pull up mommy's shirt and yank down her waist band to show visitors the boo boo isn't acceptable.

She is clearly the daughter of a nurse - she loves to take care of everything around her!

Thankfully Ellie Faith hasn't attempted/begged to tandem nurse... Yet. Although she has helped herself to excess breast milk.

Overall, c-section recovery is no where near as bad as I thought it would be. I never needed to take narcotics during recovery. If I didn't have a natural birth to compare it to, I would say it was a breeze. However, I literally thought the spinal after affects would be the death of me. 

This weekend we finally put up the gallery wall I have working on since Ellie's birth. It looks way better in person for some reason. I love it!

We also had our first professional family photos taken this weekend. Thankfully, Quinn was a rockstar, and Ellie tolerated it... With lots of breaks, a few chocolate chips, and some Doc Mcstuffins on the iPad. Can't wait to see the proofs!!

Since this pregnancy and delivery exposed, to a new level, my issues with control and expectations, I am trying to ease back into real life and routines. I am giving myself 6 weeks to:
- enjoy having a new born who could be cuddled endlessly. 

- to break some rules and protocols to help Ellie Faith adjust to her new role of big sister.

- and to give my body the time it takes to recover from growing a human... which ended in surgery.

... However, laundry, dishes, and some food prep and clean up  still must happen if I want our house to not qualify for the next episode of Hoarders (that show creeps me out so much I can not watch!) 

So until next time...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lessons learned from my pandora bracelet

I have my own semi-unique sense of style. I can go for super trendy, to way out dated, to simple-timeless-classic all in one outfit. I generally have some sort of pearls on (primarily in the form of earrings) hence the name of this blog. My husband could wear polo and j.crew for every outfit of every day. I love me some j.crew looks, just not the price! I have tried to look that part before... It just isn't me. I blame the crazy frizzy-curly hair (the other half of the reason for the name of this blog.) I like to think of my type of style as bohemian-chic.

Even with a rather wide range eclectic style, I still have very set likes and dislikes when it comes to my clothing and accessories. And apparently that of my daughter's as well. For instance, I buy 97% of Ellie Faith's clothes at those obnoxiously large seasonal consignment sales. I usually hit up two a season. And yes, it takes me hours, but its saves us!!!! Anyway, I have had several people offer to go with me to help navigate the racks, fight the crowds, etc... The very thought of accepting this simple act of kindness stresses me out to no end.

Yes, I realize this is ridiculous and might be piece of evidence 145,273,364 that I could possibly benefit from counseling at some point.

What if they pick out something I don't like?!? I realize there is a very good chance that I would veto every single item they picked out ... What type of awful human does this make me?!?

Speaking of consignment... Due to our kinda more crazy than usual summer schedule, I am not able to make my main sales for fall/winter clothing. Therefor I am planning my next trip back to visit my family around the time of a large consignment sale in their area. I am now trying to decide if I should post this before or after that time, as I know my mom will want to go help me. And I honestly, will love having her there with me, as it will be a first for us. Not sure if preparing her ahead of time for her daughter's neurosis would be better, or if would cause her undue stress and anxiety with each outfit she holds up for my appraisal. We shall see....

Apparently, this should have been titled along the lines of "hi my name is Amy, and I am a consigning and fashion control freak.... But definitely not fashion blogger! Seems I have lost my ability to title posts as well as maintain any level of flow or thought/subject consistency.

Back to pandora - the reason for the tittle of this post...

My sweet husband got me a pandora bracelet for my past birthday (my 30th if you must know.) but only after he was adequately convinced I would love it, as he is all too familiar with the strength my crazy likes and dislikes. I truly love it and know it will be a cherished piece of mine forever.

He started with just a charm of my birthstone - a topaz. Which by the way, as a child I was convinced was the ugliest the birthstone known to man. However, with maturity, and the increasing popularity of the yellow diamond, my appreciation for the topaz is grown exponentially.

For Christmas we went to the pandora store together to pick out my next charm - in memory of the baby we lost in October. ( Jared already said he planned on getting me a charm for Ellie on her birthday... Didn't happen until Mother's Day ... But even though I am clearly neurotic, I am totally ok with that). We picked out a sliver charm that had roses and leaves on it - two things that will always remind me of our October baby. The leaves were just changing colors and falling to the ground when we learned our baby got to meet Jesus first. I also received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from the CSF with some of the biggest roses I have ever seen. 

As we were leaving the store, I told Jared I did not want any of the dangling charms, ever! I love big dangling earrings (when I am not earring my pearl studs) but dangling bracelets charms just were not me!

Y'all, as I am writing this I am amazed anyone ever attempts to buy me anything - there is just not consistency to my likes and dislikes!

For Christmas that year I received three different charms from three different people: a baby girl dress (in honor of Ellie from my SIL), a charm of the Italian Coliseum ( in honor of my Italian heritage from my MIL, who majored in Italian) and a daisy and pearl combo charm (in honor of two of my favorite things from my baby sister.) Oh, and in case you needed to be told - they were all dangling! I think Jared paled a bit each time I opened the next one.

I loved each one of them instantly because of the thought put into each purchase by people that are some of the dearest to me. But in full disclosure, yes, my chest tightened up a little at the thought of my nice uniform bracelet becoming not so uniform and predictable. Apparently my clothes can span the spectrum of style, but my accessories can't... Or at least my bracelets.

But here is the deal. I put the charms on, and never looked back. I love them. Each and every one of them. I would be heart broken to loose any one of those dangling charms. Those three dangling charms taught me a lesson that I really needed/need to take to heart. I think a lot of us (women especially) do.

While yes, I probably know myself better then most people know me, other people see me in a way I don't see myself. And maybe even more shocking - their perspective can be just as true and valid as my perspective ... Maybe even more so at times.

Wives, how many times has your husband looked at your when you are an absolute mess (or whale-ishly pregnant) and told you how darling you look? Daughters, how many times have your parents told you were beautiful when you knew just knew you were having a "fat day and a bad hair day?!?" Or your coworkers or boss complimented you on a job well done and you just shrugged it off as you were just doing your job. What about the friend who tells you how much an act or conversation on your part meant to them, and you just think you were in the right-place-right-time? The list could go on and on... And yes the are times when we look horrendous, but our husbands and family members choose to look past simply the outward and see through to the real you. There are times when you were simply doing a good job because it was the right thing to do. And as much as we would all love to be that friend that always knows just what to say or do, the majority of the time, we probably have just been placed in the right-time-right-place setting without knowing it. 

The people in our lives see us vastly different then we see ourselves. They often see our talents and faults better then we ourselves see them, but still love and accept us. Even celebrate us. It's good to be reminded that the same mirror through which we see ourselves, often provides a different reflection from what others see when they look at us. For better and worse. 

This has also taught  me that I might need to get outside my comforts zone more, fashionably speaking and otherwise. And get to know the "Amy" others see when they look at me.

Nothing too crazy of course. I mean I would love to look like I stepped out of an Anne Taylor or J. Crew  catalog (with pieces bought via consignment of course) but comfort zone or not, as much as I love that look, it's just not me. Now some Tory Burch Rivas or Frye boots.... Yeah, I could definitely give those a try no problem!

Monday, September 9, 2013


... another post written while at the beach.

I guess I subconsciously knew it was coining, deep down inside. The toddler's attitude had been a slow, but steady,  decline. And since I am going to be completely honest this post - so was my attitude and subsequent tolerance.

I just wasn't quite prepared... I am never prepared for myself to shed tears.  I hate crying. I am an ugly crier. I get a headache after 3 tears. And unless they are tears of intense grief or great joy, I tend to think what's the point in crying. If I am totally honest, I probably view crying as a sign of weakness . And weakness is not an adjective I ever want to be associated with.

If you are a friend of mine who cries easily, I swear I don't think you are weak. In fact, I probably admire this trait in you. I just have to hold myself to a different standard/expectation, you see.

Expectations are tricky things. A friend's mom once told her,"no expectations, no disappointments." So true! 

I try to remember/employ this when going into new situations or potentially unpleasant situations. You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised, so why think up every negative possible outcome. Because I have never been known to do that before.

Typically, my expectations for experiences, for lack of a better word, is pretty neutral. In fact, I really try to maintain neutrality in all my expectations. 

I would love to say my expectations for people around me is neutral as well. However, I am female therefore I am pretty sure that statement would be genetically impossible. I am trying to mature in this area. I am learning to express, in appropriate ways and times, what my expectations might be for individuals in certain circumstances, because apparently people aren't mind readers. Wish I learned that handy tidbit a bit sooner. If I don't tell my husband that I would really like to have pictures taken of our family at the beach this year, I have no right to be mad when they don't happen. 

This might sort of have been the case the last 4 beach trips we have taken. 

Here's the funny thing about expectations and this post. I had this title saved in my drafts with a few bullet point thoughts. It's been there for several days. I honestly thought I would write the post after we got back home. But here I am, on Thursday evening, closed up in mine and Jared's room, writing this, while others are taking care of my daughter. 

I should probably mention I look like a wreck, and can feel a head ache coming on. If this combination seems to remind you of what happens to me when I cry, feel free to imagine that could have also recently been happening. I also like to help add my own details when reading other author's writings.

I am not good at keeping expectations for myself neutral. There is, in fact, no neutrality on my own personal expectations. I am all or nothing. I used to think I had the ability to be perfect, or at least that should always be my goal. Life has funny way of teaching you you are not in anyway capable of perfection. But more importantly, as I have matured in my walk with Christ, I realize perfection isn't the goal, and I am becoming more comfortable in my imperfections. Ultimately, I realize my imperfections are simply my need for more of Jesus in my life. 

Sometimes I am better at accepting this fact, then other times. 

I think I am fairly well aware in most of my expectations of myself, that I naturally set the bar too high. And that not attaining the level of perfection I originally hoped for is ok. I may take a bit accept it, but I generally get there. 

Except in one area I just discovered  - parenting! But we will get to that later. Oh don't you worry!

Recently, I am realizing (and this is all kinds of embarrassing!) that while I have extended grace to myself, I don't think the people around me will, and still expect perfection. Apparently, I am not as "free" in this area as I thought. What kind of awful prideful person am I to think that people might actually think I am capable of perfection? As if they don't see my many short comings and failures. Ugh, I disgust myself at times, 

So because of this nasty habit of mine, I put myself under undue amounts of pressure to attempt to meet what I assume are others expectations of me. Yes, that is correct. I apparently can read minds and know what people expect of me without them even having to tell me. 

Don't you wish you could be my BFF?!?!;)

But I am trying to get better at this, because, unfortunately, this sets me up to become bitter and resentful towards people. You know, for those expectations they have of me that I saw via telepathy. 

Yes, please spend a lot of your prayer time praying for my husband. And blessing my parents that they didn't kill me while trying to raise me!! God bless the three of them!!!!

Another way expectations will get ya - just when you think you have really made strides in having realistic expeditions, life throws you a curve ball. Let me give you my afternoon and evening as an example.

Jared and his dad played golf this morning. A very well deserved round of golf, away from the needs 
and expectations of the women around them. This meant, I got to wrangle Ellie by myself at the beach, until after lunch. My sister law was there most of the time and is a great help, but I am sure (via my telepathic marvels) she doesn't think playing with/caring for her niece for more then 5-10 minutes at a time is her idea of a vacation. This was not one of Ellie's better days at the beach. I was overall ok with the state of things, as she is 19 months old and attempting (frustratingly) to learn how to convey her thoughts and opinions, and exert her will. She is new to this phase of life, and isn't going to do it perfectly.

She wanted to dig for 30 secs, then started crying because she wanted to go to the ocean. We go to the ocean, and she cried because her shoo-shoos (shoes) got wet. Well, sister what did you think was going to happen in the water? She wanted to eat, but cried when she finished her bananas, bar, oranges, crackers, pouch, and pizza. Oh, and she didn't want to drink water out of her sippy cup, but only out of a screw top water bottle, which she is not skilled at, so cried every time the water poured all down her front. She wanted to walk, but 5 minutes down the beach she wanted me to carry her. And let's just say, at 34+ wks pregnant, my "hold ability" time and physical capability is rapidly diminishing. Keep in mind too, she will walk for 30 minutes  at a time for everyone else, but not me. Then she cried because she couldn't catch a seagull, or grab the kites or the airplanes out of the sky.

You get the picture.

No, it wasn't fun, but it was ok-ish. It's at the end of the vacation, we have been gone for a week already, and I am tired too.

I was even completely ok with the knowledge that I would need to be the one who sat in the condo that afternoon while she napped, as my husband had kindly done it the day before.

Expectations were pretty neutral, and my acceptance of reality was fairly good.

We decided, as in Jared consented to my implorings/beggings/nagging, to take family pictures one the beach this evening. This meant we would have to skip going out to eat with his family. Unfortunately, I realized 3/4 of the way to Myrtle Beach, that I had left my DSLR camera with the remote, and tripod a home. Thankfully, I still had my point and click camera and iPhone for photo documenting. We would make do.

Then I started feeling the pressure of "I wonder what his parents think about us skipping dinner tonight." Not that they have given me any reason to worry about this. I just telepathically knew they thought we should join them for every dinner this week. 

However, I purposefully didn't ask Jared what his parents reaction was when he told them our plan. Typically, I would have asked no less then 5 times if they were ok with it. Growth people!

Here is another funny/frustrating tidbit about myself. I am not a people pleaser in the sense that I will do whatever anyone else wants me to do. I am fiercely independent and cling to that independence! I am a people pleaser in that I want people to like the decisions I make. 

I am a gem, I tell ya!

Ellie was excited to be headed back out to the beach in a "pee-pee" (pretty) dress. The steps on the board walk were some of her favorite pass times all week.

Her excitement lasted all of about, oh, 5 minutes. I had even been set the expectation that she would probably want/need to have some kind of toy in tow, and that it would show up in every picture. But hey, that's real life! As it turned out, she took her toy otoscope (thanks Doc McStuffins!) down to the beach, and then added to the collection a shovel and bucket.

After 5 minutes, disaster struck. Imagine an epic toddler meltdown. We had that x10!

We tried everything - redirection, distraction, prayed, sang Jesus Loves Me, etc...

She proceeded to act like we were cutting off her arms and legs.

To make matters worse, Jared could walk her a little way down the beach, and she turned back into her sweet usual self. However, as soon as she saw me - screams, tears, flailing, etc... she wanted me to hold her, but the fits continued!

We finally accepted defeat, and headed back to the house. With a toddler who screamed all the way back to the condo, and for an additional 30 minutes back in the condo.

I had thought I was ok with her antics earlier in the day, and maybe I was. But now my patience was more then used up. And I was ticked. This new screaming whenever she sees me habit she has formed, while still wanting me, has taken a toll on me this week. I was done! I basically told Jared to deal with her, and went to our room. Something I never do.

After a battle of the wills, Jared won, and brought Ellie to me to apologize. We cuddled for a minute, and decided she wanted to eat some Mac and cheese. Got her set up in her chair with food. All seemed good, but I was still a wreck inside. Jared's family got back, and immediately she turned on her sweet charm. For 5 minutes.

Then we made eye contact. And the "mommy mommy MOMMY!" wails began again. Thinking that maybe she was just embarrassed by her previous antics, which definitely happens to her frequently, I got her out of her chair and told her she could finish eating in my lap. Instead, she preferred to scream, and basically scale her way up my head.

Before too long, I was back in our bedroom, door closed, boo-hooing that my child didn't love me, I was a bad mom, and I didn't understand what I had done so wrong!!! I had kept her on her schedule, even while on vacation. Had chosen specific battles to fight, and others to let go. I realized traveling for 10 days would be rough on a toddler. I had tried to do everything I could to make it the best possible experience for her. But all she wanted to do was scream in my face. Clearly, the I must be the worlds worst.mother.ever!!!

Jared calmly reminded me she was 19 months old. Her reasoning was not all that intact just yet. Thankfully, he refrained from mentioning that perhaps I was tad emotional-hormonal with pregnancy. Instead, he told me to stay in the room and rest, and he and his family played with Ellie. Who, I could hear was just being absolutely precious and fun. 

So I cried some more.

Then I cried even more upon realizing that even though I could hear her being all sweet and fun, and sweetly calling out "mommy! Mommy?!" while looking for me, for the first time ever, I didn't want to be near her. In fact I wanted walls and space between us. Worst.mother.ever as well as the first to ever feel such awful things, I  am sure!! :)

45 minutes later, she was bathed by her grandmother and aunt, and I had cried off all my picture worthy make up. I heard a sweet little knock on my door, followed by," uh, Mommy?" I got down on my knees, opened my door and was greeted by sweet little arms around my neck, and my daughter's head on my shoulder. 

Ellie crawled into bed with me, along with her milk cup and oof-oof (stuffed puppy dog) and watched a Doc McStuffins episode before bed. I got some seriously sweet snuggles. She wanted to give everyone kisses goodnight, but wanted me to put her to bed, so we got in a few more sweet snuggles.

We have a pretty set prayer we say every night. Tonight however, she and I prayed specifically for grace for and from each other as we navigate life together.

While I want to maintain neutral expectations overall in life, I have decided there is one area where I want to keep my expectation high. And that's for grace. Grace for myself, grace for my daughter, grace for my husband, and those I am in contact with. 

Something else I realized through my tears tonight - the fact that I had reached the end of my "today" rope in patenting, simply meant Amy was used up. But now, God could show with great ease, without the walls of my expectations blocking Him. 

Oh, and that tears might be semi-therapeutic after all. Crap!

I am also fairly certain my in-laws are now questioning my sanity, as well as being, understandably, concerned about the subsequent well being of their son and granddaughter.

At least I have succeeded in lowering their expectation of me. After this, they are keenly aware I am not, after all, perfect. ;)

Lucky, 30 seconds before my daughter's complete come apart, a sweet man snapped 3 pictures of us as a family. Two of them turned out alright.:)

Friday, September 6, 2013

So, this happened ...

Our teeny tiny rockstar, Quinn Collins, made her extra early debut via c-section yesterday afternoon. 

Weighing in at a whopping 4 lb 11oz, measuring 19 inches long, she is a peanut to say the least... But a feisty little thing! And we couldn't be more in love.

After battles last night with low blood sugar and body temps on Quinn's part, and passing out and vomiting on mine, we are doing much better! ;)

Birth story to come at a later time. :)

Until then, this peanut of a princess is getting lots of love and snuggles.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Family Summer Travels 2013

July and August were a bit busy for us this year. Be prepared for lots of pictures!

Ellie and I traveled back to Nashville, family came to Knoxville, and we travelled to Charleston, Hilton Head, and Myrtle Beach!

In between time spent in the car, I have been getting things together for Quinn Collins' arrival - getting Ellie's Big Sister gifts together, picking out the girl's first sister-outfits with the awesome help of RosieCheeksCreations. And nesting. Aka, turning the house inside out and upside down... and driving my husband bonkers. We also decided (as in, I insisted, and jared obliged) to swap master bedroom and nursery, complete with a closet overhaul... the week before we left for our beach trip.

The bedroom swap was nearly disastrous. Thankfully, I hired a handy man for the closet organization installs, and the bed and crib disassemble and install. Jared and Ellie came down with a vomiting and diarrhea bug about 2 hours into the swap out. So I was left doing it myself. I might still be bitter. I love the way it turned out. Once I finish the gallery wall in the girls room, I will post pictures.

Here is a lot of photo-documentation of our visits and trips this summer.

Ellie Faith and I headed back to middle TN for several days just to visit my family and grandparents. We had a great time! Most of our visits are over a weekend, and crazy busy. This time, we went during the week, and just had some laid back visiting time. My parents got my sister and I tickets to the Grand Ol' Opry to see the Band Perry! It was one of the best concerts I have ever been to! They are incredible live!! Gracie and I also got in some shopping at the new Opry Mills' H&M. Well, I did some shopping... not sure maternity shopping was exactly what the 17 year old had in mind for a good time. :) Saturday, we went to the Franklin Farmer's Market with my sister, mom, and sister-in-law, Jenny. If you ever find yourself in the greater Nashville area, you really need to check this farmers market out - amazing. And be sure to get Ellie's Doughnuts - out of this world good!

We were also blessed enough to have some of my family come through Knoxville to visit. Its always so nice to see family without having to pack up the house and travel!:)
visits with Aunt Gracie, Uncle Vinny, and Uncle Christopher

At the end of July, we rented a suburban,  kidnapped Jared's sister Brenna for babysitting purposes, and  left bright and early on a Thursday morning to head up to Charleston, SC. One of our former college girls was getting married, and Jared and Ellie were both in the wedding party. We have gotten really close to this couple over the past 4 years, and seen them grow so much together an individuals and as a couple. We have been looking forward to this trip and wedding for a long time!

We made great time traveling! Ellie is an exceptional traveler. She loved having her Aunt B in the back seat with her.

As soon as we checked into the hotel, we changed clothes and headed to the coast to see a light house. Unfortunately, the sky opened up as soon as we got there, and we got soaked. Ellie loved the ocean cove and kicked and splashed like a crazy person. She was devastated when we made the decision to leave based on lightening, as you can see in the picture below.:) Nothing some snuggles with daddy couldn't fix though.

dinner the first night (apparently sunglasses were required)  and visiting the Battery

Brenna's best friend and college roommate, Jessica, lives a few hours away from Charleston, so she joined us for the weekend as well. It was great getting to see her again, and Ellie loved having so many people at her beck and call. We could not have enjoyed this trip as much as we did without the incredible help of these ladies! 

Ellie loved getting to hang with the "big girls!"

Friday, Jared got to play golf with the groom and his friends, so we ladies got to explore down town Charleston. Somehow, while on King's Street, we got confused, headed the wrong the direction, and got hopelessly lost. In the high-noon heat. In Charleston. With a toddler and no stroller (one of Ellie's parents forgot to pack it, and lets just say it wasn't me.) Over 5 miles on foot later, we remembered we all had GPS's on our phones, and finally found our way back to the Straw Market, for some way over due lunch and fluids. Ellie was such a trooper and did a great job walking, and being carried between the three of us.

And yes, the middle picture below is how my daughter decided to take on King Street. She has her own sense of style to say the least. She has a bead and shoe fetish these days. She is all about "pee pee" (pretty) shoes. Needless to say she thought she had died and gone to heaven when we went into a Steven Madden shop. 

ooooohhhh, Mommy - pee-pee shu-shus!!!

After such a big, long day in the sun, the little girlfriend was exhausted! Slept on me most of the way back to our car, on the ride back to the hotel, and for about another two hours at the hotel.

We left Ellie with the girls for the evening while we went to the rehearsal dinner, which was held at the Old Village Post Inn. Part of the Notebook was filmed in that area/location. 

Me and the Bride to Be
It was such a quaint, gorgeous location, and the food was fabulous! The bride and groom did a fabulous job thanking everyone there, and Jared and I might have both teared up more then a little. It was a wonderful night celebrating and fabulous young couple.

We had several hours to kill before the evening wedding on Saturday, so we headed out to the Ravenel Bridge and nearby park. 

The goal was to get Ellie good and exhausted so she would take a great nap to be well rested for the evening festivities. Mission accomplished!

We also went to see the USS Yorktown. Its been a life long dream of mine (for some odd reason) to land on and take off of an aircraft carrier. We were rapidly approaching nap time, so we didn't get to go on the tour, but we did get to take lots of cool pictures near it.:)

yes, my child chooses her own accessories, and thinks sunglasses are coolest when worn in doors.

Again, thanks to our awesome babysitters, we were able to get ready for the ceremony and get to the venue early, while the flower girl got in an extra long nap. Brenna and Jessica brought her to the venue about 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony to get dressed and practice walking down the aisle. We had been practicing at church for weeks, and she had done great! We decided to bribe her with some chocolate chips in case she got nervous walking in front of people.

Practice went great! We even got to spend a little bit of time with the bride beforehand. And can we all just agree that she is one of the most gorgeous, timeless brides of all time!?!?

Unfortunately, Ellie only made it about a 1/3 of the way down the aisle before the aws and giggles from the crowd started to get to her. Before a possible melt down occurred, i scooped her up and we walked the rest of the way together. The rest of the ceremony went perfectly, and the reception could not have been more fun!

The music moves Ellie to say the least. She has really started to dance and boogie and try to sing along to certain songs. She has several songs she would listen to on repeat ALL DAY LONG. She has her own playlist on iTunes comprised of Disney Tunes, christian songs, and pop songs from Kid Bopz, for editing purposes. (Note: do not download the Black Eyed Peas' Boom Boom Pow and add to your child's playlist without listening to it first... it provides a whole new level of vocabulary!)

I really thought the loud music and flashing lights, combined with lots of people she didn't know would intimidate her. However, as soon as the music and dancing started she grabbed my hand and went straight for the dance floor. She even tried to follow along with choreography of the cupid shuffle. Of course, as soon as we would try to record her, she wouldn't perform as well, but below are two videos to give you a little taste of her dance moves.:)

Needless to say, she was quite a hit. Even the bartender commented on it, saying he had never seen a kid her age just run out there in the middle of everyone and join in on the dancing.

Jared with the Bride and Groom

Poor Ellie woke up with a fever the next day, and was pretty pitiful for the next five days back home. Thankfully though, she slept great on the trip back, and with the help of a little Doc McStuffins on daddy's iPad, the drive home was pretty effortless.

Two weeks later we hit the road again. This time for Hilton Head for yet another wedding for someone we met during our earliest days at the CSF.

We left Thursday evening, around 5 pm and originally just planned on finding a hotel somewhere along the way to stop and get some sleep. Instead, we ended up driving straight through, and arrived at our destination by 1:30 am.

Again, Ellie travelled great. She colored, watched a few Doc episodes, and fell asleep around 9:30 and didn't wake up until we arrived at the hotel. Unfortunately, she then thought it was time to party! We didn't end up getting her back to sleep until after 3 am, and she woke up screaming at 8 am. ugh

Fortunately, the hotel resort where we stayed was right on the beach, and had several pools and tons of places to play and explore. We were able to get her worn out enough for a good nap before the wedding that evening.

Sadly, the weather did not cooperate with a beach side wedding, so the event had to be moved indoors last minute, but was still a wonderful affair.

if you could have too many ruffles, this might be it:)
Wedding receptions with sit down dinners, are just not a toddler's idea of fun apparently. Especially when your sleeping schedule has been all over the place. We didn't last until the dancing started, sadly. But overall it was still a great time.

The next day we set out for Myrtle Beach for our yearly vacation with Jared's family. Traffic was horrific about an hour outside of Myrtle Beach! I seriously hate hate hate all the roads leading to MB.

Our condo was great this year! In a much smaller complex then where we have stayed in years past, so the beach was much more open. Even better - we didn't have to share a room with Ellie! We all sleep soooo much better this way!

Overall, Ellie loved the beach. We had some serious toddler attitude rear its ugly head while there. (posts on that coming up). However, if I am totally honest, I think my attitude was having some issues as well, still adjusting to the new meaning of vacation, as a mom (hello oxymoron if there ever was one). And ridiculously pregnant. I think she and I maybe both fed off each other's off attitudes a bit. But I learned, and am still processing, some great/important parenting lessons while there. I wrote about some of it here

Doing her favorite beach activity - "diggy". my kid could win a "squatting" competition - she would do this for hours.

I really wish my kid didn't have trouble expressing her feeling and emotions

We attempted a family photo session on the beach one evening. Unfortunately, half way to Hilton Head I realized I left my DSLR, remote, and tripod at home, so we had to make do with my basic point and click, and the iPhone. Sadly, the photo shoot did not turn at out well... there were tears from multiple parties... feel free to think one of those in the party was Jared. I won't mind. Again, a post is coming up on this experience.

Round trip, we were gone 10 days. 10 days is a long time, y'all! As sad as we were to leave the beach, and having to say good-bye to having Daddy around every day, it was really good to get back home.

The trip back was a breeze! We stopped once! I am not sure if it was a bigger feat for the toddler or the bladder of the pregnant passenger!:) My child might have watched an entire season of Doc Mcstuffins on the drive back, but I've heard car tv time doesn't count.:)

I guess since I couldn't nest while on vacation, it was alllll stored up, because once we got home I went into hurricane mode, and dragged Jared right along with me. 3 hours later - we were completely unpacked, laundry done, grocery shopping done, beach stuff stored away, etc...

Its been a crazy summer of traveling, but its provided lots of fun memory making moments, and tons of family time. Yes, it has had it challenges, but I think, for the most part, we are all better for it. Even though it wasn't as relaxing as the summers of the past, I must say relationally (amongst the adults) its been great. With all that time together, most people start to get on each other's nerves. But not this summer. We have had a great time with both our families, and looking back, I feel so incredibly blessed.

Lets just take a moment to soak in the beauty and peace in these pictures...

We are catapulting into fall schedules. Getting ready to add a new member to our family. Then the holidays will be upon us before we know it. Followed by Ellie's second birthday!  Life is getting ready to get cray-cray-crazy. I have a feeling its going to February before I know what hit me.