Category Archives: Growing All Up

Licensed to Pout

I apologize. Habitually. When people cut me in line even though I’m standing in the right place. For not having correct change. For having to stop for water on a 10-mile run.

Somehow along the path of a private school education and Southern Baptist upbringing, I adopted a generalized attitude of guilt over everything. I’m in the way. I’m making this harder for someone else. They might be inconvenienced.

In many instances, this guilt can manifest as empathy, selflessness and generosity. All uppers. Go me!

But lately, always maneuvering around other people’s needs has prevented me from recognizing that sometimes I need to be maneuvered around. Frankly, I am in an overwhelming mom-worker-wife-life season, and I am just too tired to keep apologizing for it.

I am the spaghetti in this analogy.

I am the spaghetti in this analogy.

The whining is forthcoming. Pretend there’s no Syria or shutdown or Jenner divorce and play along.

On top of a stupid long list of things that will not be accomplished this century, I lost my wallet this weekend. In addition to 10 p.m. Sunday night calls to cancel credit cards, I had to add a trip to the DMV to my to-do’s. Let’s stop here and share that collective joy that abounds with an impending trip to a government office.

I worked through the morning, and by the time I looked up DMV offices and requirements, I realized the license services were only open for another 30 minutes. Foregoing a shower (shock) and full face license photo makeup, I ran out the door hoping to make it.

The closest office is in a somewhat questionable area, but is also one of the busiest. I’ve made the rounds, I know. After I got my number, I found the chair least likely to attract a chatty fellow license seeker. Strangers are weird and I’m about 80% sure I’m allergic to them. I brought my Kindle and mentally braced to camp out for awhile. The first number I heard was G657. I was G670, and the letters went all the way from A to H. Oy.

Before I even scrolled through my Facebook feed, the loudspeaker shouted, “G-six-seven-zero is now being served at window 19.” I waited until the number flashed on the board and I had triple checked my ticket before walking cautiously up to the counter.

I had it formed, already swirling around on my tongue, about to let it fly out like vomit. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry your machine malfunctioned?
I’m sorry I followed every procedure down to the letter?
I’m sorry other people may be unhappy?

There was nothing to be sorry about. So I decided I wasn’t sorry. I gave the woman my ticket and told her honestly how long I’d been waiting when she asked. She knew there was a mix-up. She also knew it wasn’t my fault. So she asked me the string of questions (No, I am not currently addicted to drugs. No, I do not toss Cheerios into the cup holder of my child’s car seat on the interstate.), snapped my picture and handed me a new license. Less than 10 minutes. No apology necessary.

For one time in what’s been feeling like many, many times of unfavorable adjustments, this was a little break in my favor. At just the right moment, for just the right person.

After the laundry overflowed out of the hamper preventing the closet door from shutting,
after a conference call was 30 minutes late,
after I realized I had no cash or cards to go grocery shopping,
after I spilled half of Addison’s still-raw eggs on the floor,
after she pooped THREE times before 9 a.m. and I had to change her while she sobbed desperately because of the most intense diaper rash ever,
after cramps and hormones beat the reason and sanity out of me like baseball bats,
after an email reminded me I completely forgot about a project with a looming deadline,
after all those normally-I-can-muster-some-perspective-but-not-today moments,

I really didn’t want to be sorry that I was G670. Or go sit back down.

So I cashed in that ”lucky” ticket today. And I think I may take some time to hang on to being G670.

Empty-handed but unapologetic.
Simply asking for what I need.

And saying thank you to all those people who smile and say, “That’s ok, honey. It’s not your fault.”

(Or who bake me cookies or let me cry in their gelato. Thanks for that, too.)

Nothing but love for the DMV from now on.

Nothing but love for the DMV from now on.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

Dear Gym,
I remember that sunny first day we met. I was a barely legal, eager college freshman fresh out of a years-long relationship with organized sports. I was looking for something else, something new. You were a two-story behemoth, a state-of-the-art glass and cement mecca only costing me the courage to walk through those two sets of front doors.

At first things were grand. Sure, I saw the lines of sorority girls waiting for ellipticals on the second floor, but if I stayed mostly on the ground level I never had to cross their paths. Except waiting for a hand dryer in the bathroom when I was dripping sweat on the linoleum and their eyeliner was still somehow perfectly in tact. But I digress.

I’ll admit we had some sweet, sweet memories. In the tiny corner with the girl-sized free weights, it felt like it was just you and me sometimes. And the birthing/adductor machine positioned right in front of the mirrors made for some extra special supersets. You didn’t even bat an eye when I began bringing my blonde, affectionate buddy. Or followed him into the man weight room and did some chest presses.

You were good to me for a time, gym.

But times change.

The last two times we met up, it was different. The fluorescent lighting was distracting, not enticing. The floor to ceiling mirrors were intrusive, not convenient. The employees were pretentious, not perky.

I’ve always equated you with being healthy: if I just had that gym membership, I would automatically be living healthier. Even if we didn’t see each other for months at a time, the card hanging from my key ring would tell the world that I WORK OUT. Or, at the very least, I have access to a facility that provides fitness equipment on which I could perform exercises for the betterment of my physical appearance. How healthy is that?!

But alas, that card has not been scanned enough to pay for the gas it takes to come see you. And when I have made it there, I don’t feel like I belong any more. I fall into that forgotten age bracket between the majority of gym aficionados–not a spandex-clad 22-year-old and not a water-aerobicising 72-year-old.

From my inconspicuous perch on a second floor treadmill at this newest location, I took a good long look at my fellow Sunday afternoon constituents. I was disheartened. And entertained. Most work outs could be completed in half the time if gym goers would replace subtly flexing in the mirror with actually lifting heavy things. I guess they need to be absolutely sure those curls are working? Like, immediately. Someone also needs to kindly drop a map in the bags of all the men so that they learn to locate the leg machines.

It suddenly hit me that what I once saw as a communal space to honor and improve your body now felt like a temple designed to worship it. That’s not a religious service I’d like to attend, no matter how sculpted those deltoids look in your DIY cut off t-shirt.

And how is no one else sweating in here?!?!

Since it was already hella difficult for me to maintain a rational body image after having a baby, it no longer seems like an encouraging space to put myself in regularly. You make me feel uncomfortable, okay? I can’t wear mismatched clothes without feeling self conscious, make eye contact with anyone, or eat in front of you. That’s not very judgment-less, now is it?

 

I call B.S.

I call B.S.

I mean, I don’t like to cut and run, so of course we’ll see each other during the two month cancellation processing period. Just don’t get all desperate and try to change my mind with your smooth treadmills, ice cold water fountains and childcare. Oh, the childcare. That bright spot in the dark, toddlerhood-encroaching night. Must stay focused.

As you may have suspected, yes, there is someone else. I call it the garage. And a craigslisted weights set and pull up bar I’ve been cozying up to. The bells and whistles have lost their luster, and I’ve decided to downgrade from sprawling to simple. I hope that you’ll understand.

But even if you don’t, I’m going to need that $40 a month back.

Sweaty Hugs for Life,
N. Noa

If I am plugging away next to you at Barnes & Noble, don’t do these things:

1. Talk loudly to yourself. I always feel like it’s rude to not respond to you, especially when you speak in rhetorical questions–Where did I put that dictionary? Can you believe some people?–but you’re clearly having that conversation with no one in particular.

2. Breathe like you are snoring. I am tempted to jostle you awake, but it turns out you’re just way too zoned into that video game on your phone to notice everyone thought you were experiencing severe sleep apnea.

3. Make a weird phone call, forcing me to eavesdrop every single syllable. Anything medical applies here.

4. Dress cuter than me. I’ll be in sweats. Plan accordingly. Yeah, white skinny jeans and summer scarf, I’m looking at you.

5. Stare at me. I’ll take care of the staring around here, thankyouverymuch.

6. Be a high school couple. It takes every ounce of self control for me to not go buy you Bibles, condoms and Invisalign.

7. Play Gloria Estefan on the loudspeakers. Just…no. No, no, no, no, no.

8. Read something with an awesome cover. I just want to creepily make my way behind you to read a paragraph or two.

9. Read something I’ve been wanting to read. See #8.

10. Bring your child. I’ll feel guilty for ever leaving mine and get lost watching your 2-year old play with the trains. Major stranger danger alarm.

 

 

Before 30 Wish List

I originally wanted to list 30 things to do before I was 30. Either because I am so prematurely accomplished or because I am detestably uncreative, I could only think of 10.

  1. Run a 5k in less than 30 minutes. (So close.)
  2. See college friends. If you think I’m talking about you, I probably am. Football season usually makes this easier since we take advantage of anyone we know still living in Tallahassee willing to put us up for FSU games.
  3. Make a few new friends. Gals of Tampa, get ready for a stammering, inaudible, likely inappropriate greeting comin’ at ya.
  4. Get out of my comfort zone. By accomplishing #3, I will most certainly take care of this one.
  5. Find a recipe to master. My husband should say, “Natalie makes the best [corn dogs, café con leche, pea soup or something equally as awesome and surprising].”
  6. Participate in at least one service project face to face. Writing a check is important, but getting my hands dirty is a must sometimes.
  7. Think of an idea for a novel. Write a chapter or two, solely to say casually, “I’m working on my book” for the next 10 years.
  8. Run another half marathon.
  9. Visit somewhere for the first time. California. Greece. Omaha. I don’t really care where.
  10. Read (or re-read) a couple of classics. Don’t persecute me for this, but I have not read one book by Jane Austen.

29

Happy birthday to me, suckas.

In pre-baby birthday fashion, I would have been prancing around here for weeks with a fancy countdown plug-in and a detailed wish list with pictures, size/color specifications and links for your shopping convenience. But since my little thunder stealer came along, half the time I forget that it’s even August.

Luckily, my boo didn’t forget. He’d asked what I wanted to do a couple of weeks ago, and the first and only request I made was to sleep in. Like, a sinfully indulgent 10 a.m. I suggested having my parents watch Addison, and I guess the next logical step if we had an Addiesitter was to jet over to the beach for a 36-hour getaway. If that’s where the boy’s mind goes, I’m certainly not going to talk him out of it. Off to the beach we went!

We actually hadn’t been on a proper beach outing this entire summer. We were due for some Vitamin D and subsequent aloe baths.

A little heavy handed hinting with the receptionist scored us two free drinks at the hotel’s restaurant. So, naturally, we started our adventure there. The hotel was right on the Gulf, and our room had a decent view.

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After a couple of hours out on the restaurant patio looking at the water, we did a quick change for dinner. We’d pushed back our initial reservations a half hour to catch the sunset, but it was really overcast and the show wasn’t all that spectacular. I know, you’re feeling so sorry for us right now. Do you know what is spectacular? Photo editing apps.

Photo attempt by stranger with vampire aesthetics:

C N bday dinner original

Voila:
C N bday dinner

My brain doesn’t even comprehend that technology.

Dinner restaurant blah blah blah adult food mumble mumble. ICE CREAM!

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We rented a forklift to get my three scoops back to the hotel while Clayton dripped his mint chocolate chip the entire length of our quarter mile walk. “At least we’ll find our way back if we get lost,” was his positive spin on losing half his dessert. Ice cream on the balcony listening to the waves break did not suck.

At 9:45 this morning, Clayton opened the curtains to a bright, sunny Florida summer day while I was still warm and cozy in a huge hotel bed. Total birthday success, even if I didn’t quite make it to 10 a.m. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel and spent the day on the beach. Despite the warnings inherent in the very concept of “Shark Week,” I did join my husband in the water for awhile. Cautiously. Intensely sensitive to every ripple and nearby squeal. Mostly floating on his lap so that he would be the one to get the gnarly scar on his calf while I could still boast nonchalantly, “I totally survived a shark attack.” It’s my birthday, I can reduce my chances of hemorrhaging in the ocean if I want to.

Can we just collectively freak out here for a second about how the guy on the Shark Week finale died during the filming of that show? Anyone?

Clayton can only lay out in the sun comfortably for 18 seconds before he starts whining like a toddler. Since it was my birthday, he made it to 30 seconds before letting out a guttural disgusted grunt that made it clear I would not be reading the entirety of “Bossypants” while working on my tan for the duration of the afternoon. We went for a leisurely walk that ended up being 2.2 miles. For serious. We logged it on a running app.

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I had very high Instagrammable hopes of running into a big flock of seagulls, causing them to artistically scatter in the perfect photogenic angles. My first mistake was that the birds were about 200 yards away from us when I started my run. So people had a very long time to watch me and wonder why I up and started sprinting away from my husband. The second mistake was my assumption that seagulls would even care my post-baby hips were coming at them at a daunting 23-minute mile pace. They didn’t. So I finally reached them, anticipating some big spectacle, and they hopped their annoying little feet over six inches. I think maybe one flew away.

nat run beach

Not birthday success.

After our marathon walk, it was time to head out. We grabbed lunch at Gators, adorned from top to bottom in University of Florida garb, and tried not to vomit at the life size cut-out of Tim Tebow at the entrance. The gator wasn’t even that good. And the food wasn’t that great, either. Zing!

Our last stop was my parents’ house to pick up the little lady we’d been missing.

A shadow giraffe

In case you were wondering, no I don’t feel older.

Larger and less attractive, but not older.

 

Special thanks to my husband for a perfectly unexpected birthday treat. 

Dear Addison: Twelve Months

My sweet Addison,
Happy, happy first birthday to YOU!

To have spent this year with you, baby girl, has rewritten my life. All the things that
shone or sparkled or
hinted of excitement
paled on that dreamy day I met you twelve long
and too, too short months ago.

In all the ways I wrestled with questions of inadequacy–
“What have I done that matters?”
What will I create of remembrance?”
You are the resounding answer that, if all I’ve given to this world rests in your ten fingers,

it is quite enough.

The world shines a little bit brighter beneath that gap-toothed grin, the people who catch that crinkle-nose smile breathe easy, even if just for a moment.

You are walking with greater and greater ease, spanning whole rooms and navigating obstacles like the dog bed with less effort. Picking up treasures along your journeys sometimes throws you off balance: a shoe, a sock, a bone. Always invaluable items worthy of a tumble.

Endlessly, tirelessly, you plop, reposition, stand and take off. Again and again and again. No one can believe how well you are moving for just one year old.

Tenacious and determined, these traits have woven their way into your will after only 365 days. Smiley with strangers. Stubborn. Seeker of attention.

What a dizzying medley of personality you have become—a sprinkle of me, a dash of your Daddy—but a clever, compact, perfectly swirled unique you. The original Addison Brooke.

Hair with whispers of red, maintaining its wave as it grows by the day. Eight front teeth, four stacked on four, with a glorious gap in between. An appetite for table food that appeared overnight, scarfing chicken and fish, sweet potatoes and squash, plantains, kiwi, strawberries and, in a lapse in Mama’s judgment, banana pudding.

Refusing to keep even one of your 39 bows on your head.

Lover of dogs, which is most definitely in your genes. You play fetch with Maya, but she’s confused by your 3-inch throws.

Music grabs your attention and inspires the world’s cutest clapping. I’ll entertain you in the car with my best alphabet song to see that full-face grin that appears around “D.”

You are confident and brave in new situations, not clinging but eager to explore. The emptiness in my ever-ready embrace stings every time you squirm away. I imagine your first day of school, a flash of curls darting into the future before I can steal a forehead kiss. (Please don’t do that unless you want to have the hysterical mother sobbing outside the playground.)

I try to dream of what this puzzle will become, but it doesn’t feel right creating my own shape.
A doctor,
a dancer,
a teacher,
a poet.
Your dream is my dream.
My wish is that you become
you.

With ears that keep an elfish point, eyes that keep their twilight gray, hands that find their rhythm, and feet that make their own way.

I pray for your heart to be filled,
poured into in gushes, 
spilling over and out, 
in the way that you have overwhelmed the boundaries of my heart’s beat.

A Mama’s job is so complex, beautiful girl. To endure the aches of growing and letting go while resonating with pride and awe at the person I once knew only as flutters behind a belly.

I have, more than I ever would have anticipated, relished this year with you. My constant companion, my audience, my entertainment, my reminder of what matters the very most. In 365 days, there were two that I didn’t see you. Only two mornings I didn’t greet your puffy eyes, scoop you in my arms and carry you through our day.

How silly to say that you have been my best friend, but I certainly can’t imagine spending that many hours with anyone else and somehow waking up missing them.

I tell you of this year, and how inseparable we are, because one day—God help us—you will turn 15 years old. And I know from experience that I will be the very last person you’d choose to take on a road trip, to look for a new pair of jeans, or to the Starbucks where “he” works. You will look at me with unsolicited resentment, and my words will evaporate into the air before ever hitting your ears. I cringe remembering that very perfect picture of unfounded teenage angst I was.

But I just wanted you to know that we had this year, you, your Daddy and I. When your sparkling eyes hung on every move I made. When sitting on the floor giggling over a green ring was the best 15 minutes of our day. When you told me every little thing that crossed your mind, even if I couldn’t understand any of it. When you studied my words and sounds as if they were magic.

Not a year that will stick in your memory, but
the very best year of my life.

I said it when you turned one month old, and even though I don’t know how, I still promise:

it will only get better from here.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

a bday

Precipice

Just checking in quickly to confirm that, yes, people who blog daily with kids and jobs and dogs are superhuman.

We are gearing up for a week-long vacation in Maine, with a brief stop in Boston. I will be excited once 1) all of Addison’s belongings are actually loaded into our car for transport and 2) the dang flights are finished. Figuring out how to take my fly-happy pills while breastfeeding has proven challenging, so I may be going it with just a prayer and a 4:30 a.m. mimosa.

Work is picking up, which is both exhilarating and exhausting. Thankfully my mom volunteered to Addiesit a couple times a week. For now, I’m foregoing entrusting my one and only offspring to a 16-year old texting-while-diaper-changing,boyfriend-inviting-into-my-house babysitter. And exhale.

Clayton and I are expert planners, so when the time came for us to get ready for our first vacation with an infant and plan for Addison’s first birthday the weekend after we return home, we also decided to throw in a master bedroom redesign. If nothing else, at least the bedroom furniture I’ve had since I was 13 is officially out of commission. Buh-bye particle board. Hello legitimate wood dresser, reading nook and “are you kidding me that your shoes are on the new ottoman?” ottoman.

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I also tackled updating a black tv stand to use as a pink book shelf in A’s room, crafting some new art for her room, two mind (and savings account) blowing trips to Hobby Lobby, a novel-length list of ideas for the upcoming birthday of the century and redoing the gallery photo wall in our entryway.

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(Any thoughts for a wall treatment for that ginormous blank wall behind those photos? Oh, and rates for your services to actually come and execute said treatment.)

Maybe I’ll have a chance to post some pictures of the master bedroom “after.” Most likely I won’t, so just go right ahead and lower those expectations now. For the “before,” just imagine a freshman dorm room pieced together with help from childhood bedroom furniture, Craigslist acquisitions and absolutely zilch on the walls. It was a special kind of cozy in there.

The rest of the week will be a whirlwind of packing and cleaning and proofreading other people’s poor grammar and list making and list losing and list re-making and baby chasing and coffee drinking. Or, what I like to call The Everyday at Casa Noa.

I hope your summer has been full of Florida-caliber sunshine and free of mosquito bites!

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Have a baby. You deserve it.

On the fence about procreating? Here are 10 completely selfish reasons to get busy gettin’ busy.

1. You know that moment in Target or the grocery store when you realize you’ve been talking out loud to yourself, either reciting your list, the other errands you have to do or that Ke$ha song you heard right before coming in? When you’re accompanied by a baby you can easily recover with a quick, animated “What do you think about that, peanut?” directed towards the shopping cart. That’s right – you were talking to the baby the whole time.

2. It’s totally forgivable to forego showering, using makeup and general hygiene as long as your kid has on a coordinating, adorable outfit. Preferably with an ironic slogan on it, like “I was partying all night in my crib” or “Spit Up Distance Champion” or whatever.

3. Boobs.

4. Really don’t feel like driving four hours to that creeper cousin’s wedding even though you RSVP’d months ago? Babies can EASILY develop a cough the night before dreaded events.

5. I have been late to everything since I started driving. As of July 15, 2012, it is no longer my fault that I show up 15 minutes tardy for every party.

6. Naps are more acceptable for mothers. Oftentimes encouraged.

7. I spent about half as much money on groceries for the first six months of Addison’s life because her gargantuan carrier took up the entire shopping cart, only leaving room for the bare essentials to be carefully packed in around her. Coffee. Creamer. Something chocolate. And done.

8. My running pace has increased thanks to the 40 pounds of resistance provided by the jogging stroller. I have also abandoned my iPod in favor of being serenaded by baby babbling.

9. “Honey, I really need a night out with the girls. You know…all that taking care of the baby and everything.”

10. Boobs.

Am I missing anything?

A face

A face2

A blueberry face

Addison’s Dedication

This past Sunday was Addison’s dedication at church. I have to give it up to the other mom who’d been wanting to plan this for helping me tag team the pastor with no less than five emails about setting a date. We finally landed on a Sunday that was only three weeks away, so my family and friends received their invitations about 17 hours before the event. I figured if they’ve ever seen my kid, they know anything that has to do with her automatically takes precedence over work, prior engagements, meetings at the White House, emergency surgery or what have you.

True to form, the Totally Casual picnic turned into multiple trips to my parents’ house for paraphernalia storage, too many Publix runs to count and late night cursing at the glue gun. I’ve come to dread hosting anything now with that judgy jerk Pinterest peeking over my shoulder making sure the cupcakes are arranged in a perfect circle to compliment the color coordinated circles of confetti I spent an hour funneling into clear balloons. Because you can’t just have colored balloons anymore.

Sunday morning was the typical mad dash to pack up everything that’s not nailed down in our house to cart it over to church, baby-in-pretty-dress included. There’s also a lot of prayer and precautionary butt whiffing that takes place when your infant is dressed in head-to-toe white.

I’m proud to say the only thing I forgot was the dog. Sorry Maya.

My sister in law graciously offered to help me set up some decorations at the park before church to claim a shelter before any other group could get their grubby hands on it. She also didn’t outwardly mock me for almost bursting into tears when the helium-filled balloons floated listlessly to the ground. She switched into make-it-work mode and we used an industrial roll of tape to stick those suckers to some poles. Suck it, gravity. We have bested you again. We also troubleshot a major sign hanging snafu. Such significant problems out there in the middle class suburbs.

sign

So many family members and friends made it to church, which sort of knocked me over when I walked in and saw everyone. Not because they were at church but because they were at my church to see my baby dedicated. If I’d stopped to process at any point throughout the day I would have required an outfit made of Kleenex.

fam collage

Clayton and I had no idea what to expect for the actual dedication during the service. We just knew it was happening, but no details. When they announced the other baby, her whole extended family went up to the front. I hadn’t thought about anyone coming up with Clayton and me, but then I figured we had to pull some unsuspecting family members to the front. I mouthed desperately to my sister in law, “Come up with us!” right before we were called, and she dragged my brother and my parents with her. I guess if we really wanted to get competitive about it (and really, when don’t I?) we could have emptied the three rows my family was occupying. But I played it cool, mostly trying not to trip in four inch heels in front of said family.

The pastor asked for both babies. Now, Addison and Jasmine, the other little girl, were born just a few hours apart. But little Jasmine weighs about the same as one of Addison’s belly rolls. I knew I couldn’t say in the middle of the service, “Have you been working out for six months to prepare for holding our baby?” Okay, truth: I probably would have said that if I’d been holding Addison, but Clayton had her and conceded immediately.

The discrepancy between the two nuggets was hilariously obvious. Jasmine remained perched high atop the pastor’s shoulder while Addison’s little bloomers sunk lower and lower under the crook of his arm. Shortly after requesting the babies, he noted, “One of these babies weighs more than the other one.”

And then it got weird. Because then I raised the roof. Leaned back teetering on two-story heels and pumped my arms in the air. I suppose in celebration of my kid’s girth? I don’t know. In most uncomfortable situations I’d just mumble an inappropriate sarcastic comment and move on. But since this wasn’t a forum for that, apparently bringing back an awkward dance move from 1994 was the next best thing. In my head, no one saw me because they were counting down the seconds until Addison completely slipped out of the pastor’s grasp onto the linoleum. Next time, I’ll either 1. Rehearse my dated dancing ahead of time or 2. Maybe just not dance.

If you’re not familiar with a baby dedication, it’s basically an opportunity for the parents to show off their (hopefully) cute babies to the church while also committing to the task of raising them in line with Christian principles. And if you’re in our family, it’s also an excuse to eat afterwards.

We carted sandwiches and sides and cupcakes and cookies out to a nearby park and spent the afternoon catching up and passing around the Diva of Honor. You know, once she finally made her appearance an hour after everyone else arrived. Nap time, folks. It’s no joke. 

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I didn’t hold my baby for a solid three hours, so once we arrived back home it was a snuggle fest of gigantic proportions. We watched Clayton do some yard work while lazily critiquing from a blanket in the grass. Deep down he appreciates it.

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We both agreed that the day was a perfect mix of being surrounded by friends and family and down time with our little trio. We’re so thankful for such a beautiful celebration. And pleasantly surprised our pastor didn’t drop our baby.

Girls Week

Last week Clayton attended a conference for work in Chicago. He was gone Tuesday through Saturday. I survived, and so did my child, but just barely.

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The biggest challenge was a freelance project I’d agreed to the previous week without carefully reading the last sentence in the email that said, “It’s going to be tight, but I think it’s doable.” “Doable” meant working through every nap time and after putting the peanut to sleep every night. Not impossible, but certainly stressful.

My mom was a saint the entire week and spent too many hours over here Tuesday pulling Addison’s fingers away from the electrical outlets they are so drawn to. I put that vintage desk in the guest room to good use. Clayton and I host a small group from our church every Tuesday night, so I called it a day early to clean up the house and run to the store for some snacks that no one ever eats. I threw dinner in the oven for me, fed Addison and found a t-shirt free of spit-up stains all in time to welcome the group at the door precisely at 7. Except there was no group at 7. Or 7:10. Or 7:20. Turns out they thought we’d canceled since Clayton was out of town. I drowned my disappointment in the hummus artfully displayed on the counter, gnawing on those few hours spent Swiffering up coffee spills on the floor that could have been spent working.

A computer

I spent Wednesday night at my parents’ house thinking the extra help with Addison would give me more time to work. My attempt at forethought and planning blew up in my face when Addison slept for two hours that morning. I’d already packed my computer in the car in hopes of a quick wake up and hit the road scenario. The reality was my pacing around the house aimlessly, “accidentally” dropping glass objects on the tile and nervously watching the non-productive time tick by.

After Addison finally woke up, I loaded up the kid, the dog, myself and 83% of all our belongings, and we trekked the 35 minutes to Wesley Chapel. My mom took over Addie duties and I got my work station all set up…only to discover I’d forgotten my laptop charger at home. No worries, I thought, I’ll just work until it dies. So I power up the trusted HP, and surprise—7% power remaining. Enough to move the cursor over about 1/8 of an inch before it shuts off.

A humiliating all-call on Facebook was useless, but luckily my dad had a charger at work he said he’d bring home. That still left us gals with three hours of time on our hands and no work to be accomplished. I nearly broke down. I wanted to, but my mom was close at hand and I didn’t feel like a pep talk, I just felt like chocolate. The realization that it was only Wednesday also played into the feeling that I was trapped in a never-ending week. I did end up getting a good chunk of the project completed once my dad came home and they tag-teamed Addison. They also did a great job of infant entertaining after dinner until it was time for her to go to bed.  

A ring

Being away from my own space proved even more stressful, so the three Noa ladies came back home on Thursday. I found time to sneak in the last portions of the big project, plus finish some smaller jobs that popped up in the inbox. I even managed to take Addie to her first baseball game that her Uncle Tony was coaching. The difficult-to-watch two hours of errors and restrained rage was a decent metaphor for the week I was having. I won’t mention the score, but Uncle T did not come out on top. 

I have to give a mama shout-out to my little girl because that kid slept like a dream every night. If I had to combine the tension of that week with two or three overnight wake-ups, I may have crumbled. Lugging her around the city probably aided in exhausting and confusing her throughout the day, so yeah, high-five to me for yanking any hope of stability away from my 8 month old. That seems to really tire them out.

A standing crib

In related news, I actually do know the exact location of the trash cans in the garage and which days all that garbage magically disappears from inside of them. I enjoyed two sweet potatoes in the absence of my potato-hating husband, and there was no one in my living quarters forcing me to share my sushi, ice cream or red wine. Or make judgments of how much of them I was consuming.

I don’t know how single parents do this day after day after day. My solace so many times throughout the week was looking at the calendar knowing, down to the second, when I has handing that baby over and clocking out of mom mode. My life is so very good, and ridiculously easy with the support system I have around me. A long list of people offered to help last week, so I knew that I had reinforcements whenever I needed them.

A abuelo

A beema

Still, Addison and I were both jazzed about Clayton getting back home, harmonica and all (don’t ask). She showed him just how much with a warm welcome from 2-4 a.m. that morning. I would have joined the party, but like I said: I was off the clock.