Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ocean Isle Beach Vacay

We just returned from a beautiful weekend at Ocean Isle Beach. 
The verdict is: she still hates the sand and water!  My poor baby.  I just want her to be a beach bum like her mama and dada!
Alas, she was happy enough playing on the towel.  And yes, we let our child run around naked when at the beach. 

We were so fortunate to have this little getaway!  It came at a great time for me as I am a bit overwhelmed from work and needed to breathe just a little.  It didn't mean work stopped while I was away, but just that I got to sit in a beautiful location while answering emails and phone calls all day. 
Our friends Mike and Bekah invited us to share in their little vacation.  They had this beautiful beach house for the week.  Eleanor and I headed down Thursday afternoon and made it in time for pizza on the front porch.
Alex joined us Friday evening.  And in between we spent hours playing in the sand, laying out, relaxing and eating.
Mike and Bekah have two beautiful daughters.  The girls played so well together the entire weekend.  
When Alex arrived the party really got started.  We sat up late into the evenings chatting and playing board games and sipping wine.  The weather was perfect and we wrapped up in blankets while enjoying the breeze on the deck at night.
For lunch on Saturday we chowed down at Sharky's, sharing bites of crab cake, popcorn shrimp, conch fritters and hush puppies.  
Saturday night was another seafood feast.  We threw together a low country boil with clams, crab legs, shrimp, corn and potatoes.  We piled it high on newspaper and dug in!
Our little vegetarian baby enjoyed tastes of mama's seafood throughout the weekend. 

We had such a fabulous little weekend and headed home early on Sunday.  Right before leaving the island however, Alex and I made time for a quick photo shoot.  While laying out on the beach on Saturday our friends from back home walked by.  Coincidentally our favorite photographer from home, Whitney was included!  I was just asking her about doing family photos for us for Eleanor's first birthday and voila...she appeared on the beach in front of us!  So we enlisted her to do a quick shoot before we left the beach.  I can't wait to see how the photos turn out!  We love you Whitney!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ten Months

Eleanor has been ten months for a bit now, but we just finally got around to snapping a few photos this weekend.
I feel like a broken record, but this child really makes life so joyful! She is constantly heralded as the "happiest baby ever" and people just really love her!  Alex and I really, really love her.  She is getting so big and is now interacting with us on a new level, almost as if we can carry on a conversation.  Sometimes Eleanor will give me these "moments" where I really feel like we are communicating and I can feel her love for me.  We already have such a special bond.  I never want this to change!
Eleanor is such a good baby.  At ten months we are still getting great sleep.  She takes two naps a day, and a full ten or eleven hours at night.  It is easier and easier to put her down to sleep and I would say most times she doesn't cry at all or fusses very little.
Eleanor is so independent and is happy to play all day on her own.  I know she is hungry or tired because she will suddenly become needy.  I try to get down on the floor and play with her but she really is just content on her own.  I know Miss Jenny, her new babysitter, gets down and does lots of play with Eleanor.  You can tell how much Eleanor loves her for it.  Some days I feel really bad that I am always doing work or housework while she plays independently, but other days I count my lucky stars that she is so great on her own.
This baby loves other babies.  And other kids.  She sees children and starts cooing and reaching out for them.  She loves to play, albeit a bit rough, and is just so interested.  When other children are more shy than her and won't play with Eleanor, it already breaks my heart.  You can see the sadness in her eyes.  She doesn't understand why they don't love her as much as she loves them.
She keeps us on our toes.  She hasn't attempted to stand on her own or walk yet, but she certainly is mobile.  She hates to be in one place for long and moves from room to room to room.  The bathrooms are some of her favorite spots.  There is just so much to get into in the bathrooms! 
Eleanor loves to play with her toys.  She loves all her blocks, plastic, wooden and cloth.  She loves toys that make noise and she can shake.  And when I say "shake, shake, shake" she will play along.  She always grabs a toy for each hand and carries them throughout the house.  She will crawl with each hand full, then stop and sit up and start clapping the toys together.  Then start moving again.  She pulls up on everything, tables, chairs and even flat walls.  But always with a toy in each hand.
Talk, talk, talk.  She is quite the babbler, and she has many new "words."  The newest is Mama and I couldn't be happier.  At times it seems like she even uses it in context.  She also says Dada, and Gaga, and she will use 'Ls' and 'Ns'.  I'm pretty impressed by her growing vocabulary.  I don't think we are too far off from forming words and really using them in context.
Eleanor still loves to blow raspberries or zerberts and will get going and not stop for several minutes.  Drool will form all around her mouth and drip down her chin.  She is so funny!  When she puts her mouth on our knees or arms to blow zerberts she usually winds up biting us instead now.  Those teeth get in the way.  She has been biting us a lot lately and it has been hard to teach her not to bite.  We firmly tell her no, but she'll just laugh.  Right now we still find that funny and it's hard not to crack a smile.
My favorite thing about Eleanor right now are the hugs and kisses.  When we pick her up she will squeeze her arms around our necks.  Nothing makes my heart melt more!  In the morning when we are hanging out in bed she will reach over and smack a big open-mouth kiss on my face.  She gets confused sometimes and bites me, but I don't think she really means to.  Most of the time she'll just leave a big pile of drool on my face and reach back and smile.  She doesn't like to be in our arms much, but she can be sweet when she wants to be!
This month we took two small adventures.  The first was to visit friends in Highlands, NC where Eleanor got to meet her "birthday twin" George.  We went for a hike with our two families and enjoyed the cool mountain air.
We also took Eleanor to New York with us this month for Alex's Dad's wedding.  We spent a long weekend celebrating the bride and groom and ended the mini-vacay with a trip to Niagara Falls.  We rode the Maid of the Mist and were drenched and strolled through the park enjoying the great views.  Before heading home we drove into Canada so this baby can technically say she has left the country now!
Today (Sunday) is the official first day of Fall and we couldn't be more excited.  Fall has always been my favorite season and now I get to share this time of the year with Eleanor.  I'm anxious to enjoy beautiful weather, fun festivals and great days with this little gal.  We had such a great summer and now have so much to look forward to, including a big birthday that is fast approaching!
I will never understand how Alex and I got so lucky.  Our world is full of so much joy and pleasure.  Every morning I am excited to pull her out of her crib and cuddle with her in my bed.  And every evening I squeeze her tight to me, missing her already.  I know we are just ten (and a half) months into this parenting thing, but I am already certain of many things: 1. she will always know that I love her, I will never fail to tell her and 2. she will always know that I am on her side, that I accept her just for who she is.
 I can't wait to watch as her personality continues to unfold.  She is an amazing little girl.
I realized this month that being her mom doesn't wear me out the way it used to.  When she was four or five months old, a day spent with her would be exhausting.  Fun and wonderful, but very tiring.  I'm not worn out by motherhood the way I used to be.  Maybe it's because we have less diaper changes or because we are only nursing three or four times a day.  I wouldn't say it's easier now, but maybe that it is just more natural.  I've always enjoyed my job as mom, but now it's not as exhausting.
So now just one and a half more months and this little girl will be a year old! On one hand it feels like she just got her, and on the other it seems like she's always been a part of our world!

Friday, September 20, 2013

I am not a triathlete

So this weekend is the Ramblin' Rose Triathlon.  I am registered.  And I am not going to compete.  I finally made a decision.  This one I'm sticking with.
As I dive further into my new identity as a mom, I realize there old pieces of my identity that are slowly being stripped away.  A huge part of my life used to be training and competing (if you can call it that) for races.  Since becoming a mom, I have struggled to hold on to this identity and maintain this part of my life.  Despite my best attempts I have failed miserably at training for any single event this year.  I thought that there was a commitment issue.  I felt like I was wimping out by not following through.

It has taken me 10 long months (and more) to realize this, but I don't think that my inability to train this year is simply because I am not committed.  I think it also involves passion.  And I'm definitely not passionate.  And you know what?  That's ok.  And I'm ok with that.  I am finally coming to grips with the idea that life is different now.  I am different now.  I don't have to do it all anymore.  I can do different things.  I can be a different person.  I am not losing my identity because of this.  I am just shaping a new me.  Right now, the new me does not involve racing. 
It involves casual walks and runs with my baby in a stroller.  It involves the occasional bike ride on my worn but trusty Trek.  Maybe it will even involve a few dips in the pool here and there.  It doesn't include a training plan or a schedule of workouts to complete.  It doesn't involve any pressure and added stress.  Just an open plan to stay fit through a healthy lifestyle.  There may be a 5k thrown in here and there, even an 8k.  But they will be family events to participate for fun and to model a healthy life to my daughter, not a competition to beat my PR. 

On Sunday I could complete the triathlon.  I could swim a 250 any day, I know I could even bike 8 miles without blinking.  The run...well I could always walk 2 miles if I was too exhausted to finish.  But here's the thing: I didn't work for this.  And while some may argue, I truly feel like I didn't earn it.  I won't feel worthy of hanging the medal around my neck at the finish line.  If this were just another 5k I wouldn't care.  But it would be my very first triathlon.  And when I choose to actually train and complete my very first triathlon I want to do it with true passion and commitment, giving the training and the race everything I have to give.  I don't just want to check it off the bucket list.  I want to earn it!  So I'm bowing out.  Maybe I'll get up on Sunday and take Eleanor for a run instead, but I will not be finishing a triathlon this weekend. 

I am surely disappointed.  I am sure Ramblin' Rose is disappointed in me too.  But I have to do what is right for me.  And for right now, this isn't it.  I know, without a doubt, that someday this bug will bite me again, and I will be out there training my heart out.  Right now I am ok with where I am.  And I don't want to keep making myself feel like I have to do more to be respected, even self-respected on a fitness level. 
Boy for a blog about food and fitness...we have gotten way off base.  At least I know that my faith will never leave me.  Even when I falter there, I know the mercy and grace of our loving Savior will always pick me back up again. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Not Busy.

North Carolina is having brilliant weather this week.  The temps are in the 70s and low 80s, sunny skies and a breeze.  I love fall!

I wish I could say I have been too busy to write these days, but that's just not the case.  In fact I am not busy at all.  A little stressed from work, but not in a busy way.  Most days I have plenty of free time in my day.  I fill it with reading, soaking up time with Eleanor, sipping wine on our new patio furniture, and planning activities for my family and friends (like last night's BBQ for our fellowship group, which was a blast!)
Yesterday would have qualified as busy, but this is not the norm for us. I had the honor of babysitting my best friend's girls while she was at work.  I don't spend much time with them and yet they hug and love on me like I'm their best friend.  These girls are so cuddly and I spent the majority of my day wrapped up in their arms.  Eleanor is not a cuddly baby so these squeezes were extra special.
Mom's who do it with three, or who keep kids in their homes...props to you! This is no joke.  We had so much fun yesterday, but no way could I do it everyday!
Having big girls around taught Eleanor a thing or two...
Like how exciting stairs can be!  Now she knows they are there I am not sure there will be much peace in our home!
Such a fun and full day!  I just wanted to document all of it.  Fall is my very favorite time of the year.  I am looking forward to many small adventures in the next couple months.  I hope I remember to write them all down so I never forget!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dave and Lisa get married and we visit Niagara Falls

I missed you. 

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the trajectory of my life.  Where am I going? What speed am I moving? Sometimes when I think about what is ahead for me, I wonder if this blog will be there.  I spend less and less time in this space, and I'm guessing you probably do too. 

But for now, we are here.  And I'd love to share our weekend adventures with you!
Alex and I packed our bags and our baby girl and drove into the wee early hours of Friday morning to arrive in Brockport, New York for the celebration of Dave and Lisa's wedding.  Dave (Alex's dad) and Lisa planned a stunning event that began with a Friday night wine cruise on the lake.  Eleanor was crazy tired but everyone enjoyed her company and kept her entertained. 
Saturday morning we dressed in our finest and drove to a beautiful inn for the lakeside wedding.
Of course the bride and groom were stunning.
After an intimate service it was time for eating and drinking!
Dave knows how to pull out the stops and we had such a fabulous dinner.  I enjoyed scallops and much, much more.  But I must admit, Alex's vegan risotto was the star of the night for me!
The rest of our evening was consumed with rest, and then hanging out back at the hotel with family and munching on a late night snack of pizza and red wine.  I absolutely love weddings, and I love our family.  I am so glad we got to take this little trip to celebrate with everyone!

On Sunday, as all the family departed back to the Midwest, our little threesome made a pit stop in a town just about an hour away.
I would have hated to drive all this way and not catch a glimpse of the infamous Niagara Falls!  We played tourists and jumped on the Maid of the Mist for a soaking good time!
We cruised around the American side of the falls, taking our time and enjoying the long stroll and beautiful views.  Niagara Falls are absolutely majestic!
Once we worked up an appetite we stopped for lunch and caught the last quarter of the Bears game, just in time to watch them score the winning touchdown and take home the game.
We headed to a nearby state park to set up camp in the early evening.  Eleanor was so happy to finally be out of car seats and strollers and stretch her limbs.
At ten months old (yup, we missed a month update!) this is Eleanor's third camping trip.  As per usual, she insisted in sleeping in our arms on a deflating air mattress the entire night.  We love her anyway.
We woke up early the next day to get a start on the road.  Before we could head south, however, we had to take one more stop out of the way.
We drove into Canada just to say that we did.  We ate a breakfast of muffins and scones and hot coffee overlooking the beautiful falls and then loaded back in the car for the long trek back.  Yesterday's drive felt like the longest of my life.  I was so worn out (as evidenced by the tired face above).  We clearly made it and now have only happy memories and beautiful photos to look back on!  What a wonderful weekend!