Tag Archives: amigos

Do it big.

Duuuuude. natl champs screen


I can’t stop smiling. Is there such thing as an elation hangover that lasts for like a month? Because that’s what I have. But instead of a headache, I have a permagrin and the giggles and sometimes full tear ducts when I catch that shot of Jimbo hoisting the crystal football over his head with his eyes closed or when I see the parking lot outside of Doak Campbell stadium packed with people welcoming the team back to Tally. If I’d had one more millisecond to contemplate it, I would have made the 4 hour drive with Addison yesterday to greet them.

Let’s back up. I was stomach-twisting nervous in the morning, so I got in a workout while Addison napped to clear my head and keep the anxiety at bay. That was important since I was such a vital component of FSU’s game plan. My parents arrived mid-workout and waited for Addison to wake up before removing her from the inevitable cone of profanity.

My garage obviously needed to know who I was rooting for.

My garage obviously needed to know who I was rooting for.

I had a few hours to kill so I made some stops in search of cold weather FSU gear. We were watching the game at an outdoor restaurant and the temps were going to be around 35. Stellar planning, as usual. I bought several correctly-colored-but-team-neutral sweaters but ultimately couldn’t bear not having FSU displayed prominently. The floor length puffer jacket would just have to do its job over a t-shirt and cardigan. Plus, I knew my head would be warm.


We arrived a solid 90 minutes before kick off to eat and tremble and pace.

If you have a television or access to any social media outlet, I’m assuming you know how things played out. If it was 9:30 p.m. on Monday night and you posted about The Bachelor, it’s safe to say our friendship is irreparably damaged.

Three quarters of rage and disbelief and antisocial behavior from one alumna.

Crouching Seminole, Hidden Offense

Crouching Seminole, Hidden Offense

And then a fourth quarter that  will live on in college football history.

arms up

Followed by a jumping, screaming, high-fiving, hugging, wife-carried-out-into-the-streets-of-Tampa celebration that hasn’t exactly ended in my mind.


C N crazy face

group1 (2)

How many consecutive days can one wear FSU apparel? I figure I have at least a month until people start making conspicuous comments in public.

It was a major concern for all of us if we didn't let you know our official BCS ranking via our index fingers for the rest of the evening.

It was a major concern for all of us if we didn’t let you know our official BCS ranking via our index fingers for the rest of the evening.

Fun tidbit: Downtown Tampa has a tall skyscraper, the SunTrust building, that is lit up for Bucs, USF, Rays and Lightning games in the team colors. When we were heading towards the restaurant I mentioned that ”they should have done the SunTrust building in garnet and gold,” not realizing that peak was ablaze in FSU colors. I was giddy when I saw it and said that if we won, we were going downtown to take pictures with it. Behold.

Professional photog skills from the car

Professional photog skills from the car

Mission: Accomplished

Mission: Accomplished

We (my SIL and I, the boys were totes poopers after 1 a.m.) wanted to party into the morning, but it was a Monday night and the two spots we crashed were already closed.

I still have grand plans to make my way to Tallahassee for some kind of celebration. And I shall keep partying it up until I have no more party left in me. Probably around week eight of next season when we get upset by Notre Dame or something.

And one last time for blogland…

F-L-O-R-I-D-A    S-T-A-T-E
Florida State, Florida State, Florida State

St. Augustine Half Marathon Recap

The St. Augustine Half Marathon, aka my second half ever, is complete. Woohoo…is what I wish I could be saying, but instead I am me and being Debbie Downer about the whole thing.

The good news is that it’s done. My feet covered 13.1 miles for the second time in my life, and I have the shiny medal to prove it. Which may have stayed on during lunch 100 miles away from the race site.

The tough-to-digest part is that this course was bananas, and I had no idea. It’s not like I had eight weeks to study the course map posted online or anything. Instead, I chose to show up and be all, “oh, there’s bridges?” And the course was all, “UM. FOUR OF THEM.”

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

The friend that I’d trained with and planned to run with ended up getting sick last week and decided race morning to not put herself in the hospital by attempting a half marathon feeling like death. I hated it for her, of course; I’m not a completely horrible person. She even came all the way to St. Augustine for two nights to not run. But, frankly, I hated it for me, too. Two weeks before my first half I begged and pleaded with Clayton to run it with me because I didn’t know if I could push through on my own. It was quite a stunner to plan for having a partner with me, and then realize that wouldn’t be the case an hour before the race. (Missed you, Kelly!)

High hopes on race eve that we'd be crossing the finish together.

High hopes on race eve that we’d be crossing the finish together.

I was way nervous in the morning and couldn’t finish my usual breakfast or coffee. Clayton, Addison and I left about 10 minutes later than we’d planned, but we were staying so close to the race that I didn’t think much about it. When he dropped me off and I realized the start line wasn’t where I thought (seriously, eight weeks of non-map studying), I started freaking out a little about missing the start. I jogged to the big mass of people, made a quick as lightning bathroom stop on the way, and just as I asked someone if this was the half marathon start, the gun went off.

And there I was, running. I had very little time–okay, zero time–to steady my head or stretch or get my bearings. The first five miles were lame city. We ran over the Bridge of Lions immediately, and then spent the rest of the time on a major highway passing strip malls and Sunday morning traffic. I really wanted to hold off on listening to music in case I needed a boost later, so it was just engines and feet out there. Luckily, there was a decently funny guy behind me that kept me entertained with sardonic commentary. We’re all idiots for doing this, let’s just embrace it.

My pace for those first five miles was exactly on target. I’d wanted to keep it somewhat conservative but not start too slow to the point where I couldn’t ever increase to my loftier goals. Turns out, that ol’ increase would never take place, so that became a moot point. It was a positive split parade after six miles. But at least for five miles I stuck to the plan.

Around mile 5 we hit the second bridge (the Bridge of Lions was the first), which was long and long. I felt pretty good going over it and saw my speedy friend coming back down the other bridge (numero tres, if you’re keeping count). She looked really strong and that was exciting. I saw Clayton twice around this point and his lanky torso hanging out of the car trying to snap pictures was too much cute to handle.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Once we descended bridge two, it was maybe 0.1 mile before we turned around and ran up the third bridge. And this was my coffin. I seemed to have lost all steam going up that beast. Trying desperately to be funny and encouraging, I made some comment to a girl that was walking. She passed me less than a half mile later, so I doubt I’ll be throwing out any more hilarious and obviously effective words of wisdom at any future races. I’ll probably invoice her for coaching fees.

I tried to remember my friend telling me that miles 3-8 were going to suck. Just get past that point, I thought. But mile 7 was it for me. It was the last time I felt any sustained strength. From that point on, I battled against quitting and walking my pissy butt back to the car. My initial strategy was to turn things up at mile 9. In real life, this was the point I vowed never to do a full marathon. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t stop at the mile 10 marker was because I knew how long it would take for me to walk back and there was no shortcut. I had no other motivation to keep running other than I’d finish slightly faster that way.

I had to walk a few seconds here and there but got so annoyed with myself I started back up pretty quickly. [Text to husband somewhere around this point: "Babe it's over". Dramatic much?]

There was actually a sad little pack of us who would run some and then stop to walk and then try to run again between miles 10 and 12. Clearly, this was not our day, and I felt bad for all of us. We never envisioned this would be our race. Womp womp.

I got a text from a friend when I was feeling especially womp-wompy that said “hope the run went well today!” After I got over the boiling rage of her thinking I’d be done when I still had two more miles, I realized there were a lot of people who knew about this race that were going to ask me about it. I could not imagine saying I gave up at mile 11, so I kept going out of sheer stubbornness. But I wasn’t happy about it.

We had to go back over the Bridge of Lions at the last mile. Four bridges would be an accurate summation. Luckily, that was the easiest of all of them and wasn’t too awful at that point. Life in general was looking rather dismal so a little incline wasn’t going to swing that vote too much. I was able to pick it up ever so mildly at the end when I saw my fast friend–2nd place in her age group and 9th woman overall, wha?!?!–and her fam. A little farther down towards the finish line I spotted Clayton and Addison’s huge grin, which was indescribable. But more than anything, I was glad that it was over. I was so hoping to finish feeling more than that.


I wasn’t impressed or anything after I finished, but having that six-mile mental battle so fresh in my mind, I was proud that I pounded it out. As the hours dragged on, and I looked over and over at my terrible splits, and the official times were posted, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

I don’t know if I had more in me during those hours, but I am bummed that this race was the culmination of a totally healthy, really strong, 12-week training cycle. I felt great after every long run and did speed work consistently every week. My long run paces were all better than what I ended up with at this race, and my long runs had always felt easy. That is so, so frustrating. I was hoping, planning and training to race this thing, and all I could do was finish.

But hey, I did finish.

Lunchtime bling.

Lunchtime bling.

Other positive notes: technically I did reach my very basic goal of beating the time from my first half marathon (by 6 minutes) and Miss Black Shirt was all about trying to pass me in the finish chute and did not, thank you very much. I didn’t even know anyone was near me until I looked through the pictures.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

Plus, mom bonus: I ran a half after baby birthing. When I remember that first two-mile run a few months after having Addison, it’s hard to believe I conquered (okay, tolerated) 13.1 miles. Those first few weeks were u-g-l-y.

Oh, speaking of ugly.

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

So what now? Well, I am going to sulk and eat cookies for another day or two. I’m going to join my sister in law for a pedicure and wine date. And then I am going to put my big girl tempo shorts on and get ready for


The definition of insanity...

The definition of insanity…

I am certain I have a better race in me, and I am not wasting this training on that miserable half.

At least we know one person was glad I made the trip to St. Augustine. (Total accident, by the way.)

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

So, anyone feel like running a half in December???

Sick, Slow & Smelly

This weekend was unexpectedly and pleasantly low key. A cold crept up on all three of us, so we enacted a voluntary quarantine Saturday and Sunday.

Around here that meant bailing from any scheduled activities with the intent of recouping at home, but getting stir crazy after about 15 minutes and finding something else to do. We made  a quick trip to a nearby park Saturday afternoon and the wildlife showed up to greet us.

Little Bambi.

deer cross deer

And Little Eat Your Face Off.

gator arrow

Because of the long run looming over my head, I actually brought my garmin in hopes we’d walk so briskly I could subtract that mileage from my run. When I looked down and it had been 17 minutes and we’d done a 0.07 mile zig zag, I decided to just go ahead and power that beast down.

We had to rush home to make kickoff of the FSU game. And then settle in to watch them score 62 points. Not one point got old to watch, by the way.

Sidenote: we’re officially booked for a game in Tallahassee with my brother and sister in law! We’re staying with one of my most awesome friends from college and his will-be-like-seven-months-pregnant wife. Could we be any more inconvenient house guests?

That night, Clayton represented the whole Noa clan at our friend’s baptism and I played hooky with Addison. Her idea of tailgating wore us both out.

This position. That face. All morning long.

This position. That face. All morning long.

Sunday we kept all of our germs away from church. Instead, I shared them with a lonely treadmill at the gym for 6 miles and what felt like two days of running. I was late getting home for the Dolphins game, but Clayton forgave me after they finally got the W. And only after they got the W.

fins C A

After the game we popped into Barnes & Noble for a quick coffee and bumped into my bestie Leah and her little stud, Max. Addison and Max did some laps around the train table and through the children’s section before we parted ways–somewhat prompted by the smell wafting up from Max’s jersey shorts–and spent a mellow night at home.

I feel like I need to clarify here that Max is Leah’s child. And he is less than two years old. She does not routinely sniff any other male’s jersey shorts, that I know of.

On that note.

On Sunday, in the cafeteria of a middle school transformed to a church atrium,
my little girl, my fair-skinned, auburn-haired baby,
waddled across linoleum towards an expanse of tiled freedom,
trailed close behind by the narrow calves of an older girl chasing her with shared glee
pinching the oh-so-pinchable sides of my baby’s belly
and laughing a little girl’s laugh.

The girls reversed, and bee-lined back to mothers wasting time before getting back to
lunch making, diaper changing, nap fighting.
And the girls began to twirl
in cotton dresses skimming ankles,
the older swooshing in a large vibrant dance,
a younger sister joining,
my part-Spanish, part-her-father’s daughter watching with wild, eager eyes
this game she must learn,
this dance that spins and spins,
these brown-skinned girls that squealed and played
in the same high-pitched, reckless,
bouncing-off-the-wall-of-windows way
that my little lady often prefers.

My baby, with green-gray eyes and gold-flecked hair,
clapping, squealing, eager to be dancing
with other A-named girls.

There was so much sameness,
there in the different shades of skin and hair and eyes,
there in the twirling and escaping
and joining of hands.
And on a sunny Sunday morning,
I hoped that the mother of those girls who took my baby’s breath away
with laughter
and chasing
could hear the faintest sound
of history pounding deep in bones
of a ‘beautiful symphony of brotherhood’
tapped in quick-step rhythm
by little girls’ twirling toes.

“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together.”

- Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963

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.

A List Full of Happy

Here are a few things helping me smile this week.

1. I beat my brother at Words with Friends. Sure, it was the one time in about 39 attempts, but I needed that victory. All that slaughtering was really starting to make me question my career path.

2. Girls Night was last Saturday night. Hey-o! As if that wasn’t enough, I assembled (didn’t even have to bake) and brought this saucy little minx:

ice cream cake (Source)

We chatted, kept our wine goblets full and took a stab at at-home nail shellacking. My effort was more like a massacre, but at least I gave being girly a go. Less than a week later, well, the results speak for themselves. I assure you these results have nothing to do with the product and everything to do with my general deficiencies in the feminine arts.


3. Catching Addison waking up from a nap as she bobbles around trying to blink her baby-sleepy eyes into recognition.

4. Our hot tub is up and running. We’ve lounged in it a few times after putting Addison to bed, and it is rather glorious. We can open the curtains and still check in on the Rays score. Really feels like the Noa’s are winning at life a little bit every time we’re soakin’.

5. Date night tomorrow night. Live music under the stars sounds like perfection. Except that it’s been 86 degrees. Gearing up for some sweet, sweaty PDA.

6. We went on a family run last night. Clayton hates running and only succumbs to my requests if tears get involved. Last night’s easy acceptance of my invitation was pleasantly unexpected. I love running with Clayton (except for when I hate running with Clayton) because I always go faster. Way faster. Our final quarter mile was under 9:00 min/mile. That’s downright insanity for me. It may have been even faster had Clayton not completely tripped over Maya, who got spooked by a mailbox. And that’s the story of the last time Maya will ever get taken on a run.

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.


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. 



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.

A nat yard

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.

Without Caution

When I was in college, a group from the restaurant where I worked decided to go skydiving. There was a sign-up sheet posted for several weeks, and without even thinking, I was one of the first people to scribble my name down. And Clayton’s.

The day that we trekked out to Quincy, it was a typical overcast, gray Florida afternoon and storms were threatening. We had to wait a couple of hours while they finished up a skydiving exhibition. While waiting, the ever-level headed Clayton asked an instructor about back-up parachutes. "You hardly ever need to use them,” the instructor assured him. “I’ve never seen someone have to use their back-up ‘chute.”

About eight seconds later, one of the stunt skydivers caught everyone’s attention as he zipped through the sky. The pro’s could tell something was amiss, and someone casually noted, “He had to pull his emergency ‘chute!”


Despite my parents’ reservations (we waited until the moment before boarding the plane to tell them), despite Clayton’s terrified gaze as he mouthed I love you from inside the miniature plane, despite watching a professional employ his emergency parachute, despite the near zero visibility, I was completely exhilarated. I don’t even remember being nervous. Just utterly excited to hurl myself out of an airplane 15,000 feet above the earth.

Since that day, due to age or being jaded or simply becoming more aware of the state of this insane, indiscriminate world, all sorts of irrational fears have seeped into my conscious. The most ridiculous of them all—when compared to my whereabouts around 2:30pm that day in Quincy—is flying.

This year I’ve decided to join the one word trend. Now, I’m not making an appointment to get my word tattooed across my forehead in Sanskrit or carving a Pinterest sculpture out of recycled soap or anything. But just a few weeks in, knowing this word is hanging right there in the front of my mind has pushed me a teeny bit out of my comfort zone.

So, after all this babbling build-up, my word is reckless.

I know that word can take on all a whole ugly mess of negative connotations. And for some people, they should probably perform a very unsafe, illegal u-turn away from anything that resembles recklessness. But at this point in my life, teetering on the edge of my twenties, navigating my way through new motherhood, justifying too much worry as responsibility,

I’m ready for a little reckless.

I’m ready to release my death grip on being/thinking I am in control of every twist and turn. I’m not in control, can never really be. The pursuit of that illusion wreaks destruction.

Instead, I want to become a reckless
Jesus follower, who loves those who are offended by that but doesn’t care if people are offended by that.

Mom, who rolls around in the dirt without a thought about the future load of grass-stained laundry and sings along with the Children’s Pandora station no matter who might be watching in the next car.

Wife, who greets my husband every day like he has been gone for weeks and kisses without explanation.

Friend, who gives generously and listens genuinely when it is least convenient for me and most convenient for others.

Citizen, who looks for opportunities to help strangers with a hand, an ear or a few dollars.

Runner, who forgets about the pace or distance that’s comfortable and chases those that are unreasonable but entirely possible.

So. Let’s get a little out of control, shall we?

2012 in Pictures

Do you know what I call a 2012 wrap up post before summer 2013? Victory.

Here are some highlights from the craziest year of my life, stolen from our unashamedly narcissistic Christmas card.

January: This little coffee bean was a’brewin’. We also moved back to Tampa from Newport News, Virginia. We shacked up with my parents for about two months.
sono 17 weeks1 (2)February: We escaped for a sweet Valentine’s date at the restaurant where we had our wedding reception. I chose to wear a shirt that would not fully button thanks to a blossoming Addie bump and also to stick it out with highlights that obviously passed their prime.

clay nat vday4

March: We bought a house! And were somehow so outrageously excited we ended up looking like crazed lunatics in every picture but this one. (See reject photo below.)
Normal happy:

Hide your loved ones happy:

April: Probably the slowest month for the Noa’s. Not a reference to Clayton’s finishing time in this race, I swear, as opposed to someone who only showed up to waddle pregnantly around the finishing line and snag free bagels. It was most certainly not a slow month for my brother and his gal, who got engaged! My notable contribution was a collection of blurry photos captured from the bowels of the nearby bush I was crouching under. Neither party is identifiable in the pictures I took, but it’s the thought and grass stains on maternity jeans that count. 

proposal 1

May: Miss Maya joined our family! We spent the next few weeks Dog Whispering it up. We love the little lady, but I still miss my Bryson.  
m picnic island

June: We shopped, assembled, washed, organized, prayed, napped and braced for what was just around the corner.

July:  Yeah. That happened. And then we didn’t sleep for two weeks.













August: Slightly more sleep. Falling so much more in love. Hard to believe her thighs were ever that proportional.
1 month cry

September: Back in the saddle. And by the saddle, I mean real clothes and makeup for one of the happiest days of the year and the answer to lots and lots of prayers—my brother got hitched and my pal became my sister.

noas alvarez's grandma

October:  A Halloween throwdown with an appearance by the Joker. I showed extreme restraint by only purchasing two costumes for my infant.
fam2November: A trip to the pumpkin patch and our first trip to see Clayton’s family. Our girl never looked at her car seat the same way after spending 16 hours in it. The unsuspecting traveler at pump 2 never looked at me the same way after I breastfed in the car at the gas station.
fam steps

December: Baby girl’s first Christmas! And the one and only Christmas where we spent less than $20 on presents for her.
Whew. This year we are going to keep the party rolling by going to bed at 9, banning any more babies and keeping Red Box in business. Happy [10 days into] 2013! 

Christmas for Three

Clayton and I rolled over to look at each other on December 26, blinked for a few seconds, and then groaned at how utterly exhausted we were.

“I feel like I got hit by a truck,” I whined.
“I feel like I did the hardest workout of my life,” he muttered.

Christmas was quite the tiring affair with a mini-me in tow. But it was also more meaningful and special than it has ever been.

The season was celebrated with get-togethers and festive events that lasted about three weeks. The kick off was Clayton singing with our church at an outdoor shopping center on December 4th. It was a little hard to embrace the Christmas-ness of that performance in the balmy 79 degree evening.

On December 9 we threw a surprise retirement party for my mom. Girlfriend was completely caught off guard.


Since she was unaware of the party, my mom planned one of her own on the 15th, which made two for us that night. We also made a last minute trip to visit the big guy that afternoon. Addison was less than impressed.

santa suit collage with sant

We were part of a group organizing a toy drive for a pediatric nursing home through our church. December 18th we had our group over to our house to wrap and arrange the gifts.

lifegroup gifts

We had loosely Christmas-motivated dinners with friends the 19th and 22nd. December 23 we spent the afternoon and early evening with my dad’s sisters and cousins from that side of the family for an early Noche Buena celebration. Yes, sometimes I am Spanish. Rarely, but sometimes. (Sidenote: One of Addie’s Christmas presents counts to three in Spanish and it makes me way too happy thinking I might not raise a complete Gringo.)


Dec 23 Collage









I swear she has a neck in real life.

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a casual chili dinner with my parents. That night Clayton and I jumped on the Christmas Eve pj bandwagon and started a new tradition by giving each other a new pair.

And, as always, we had a full day of festivities on Christmas Day where everyone got completely, outrageously spoiled. Clayton, Addison, Maya and I began at home opening our presents to each other. I got Addie exactly one present: a book. I hope she doesn’t already resent me.

If I try to wait until I have time to recount each of my favorite moments in detail, this post would never get published. Instead, maybe 3 billion pictures will capture some of the memories. In a nutshell: Addison was unbelievably happy and content through all of our running around and, though we thought she wouldn’t understand the “present phenomenon,” we were sorely mistaken. It took her about 8 seconds to figure out behind that colorful paper (which was as equally entertaining as the present), there was a bright, shiny new toy to play with.

DSCN1866  He’s a serious gift shaker. Babe, if it walks like a shoe box and talks like a shoe box…








And the best part of all had to be her growling in approval at all her new swag, captured here at the very beginning. Then she took to flirting with her Daddy.

Lots of themed outfits for the peanut. In any pictures where she is not wearing something festive, it’s a safe assumption that particular outfit had already been sufficiently pooped on to warrant a costume change.

As magical as Christmas was before, it was all magnified seeing things through a baby-sized view. So incredibly fun and exciting. But also more exhausting than it’s ever felt. Although Addison can’t tell me she agrees, her 14-hour sleep-eat-sleep-eat cycle on the 26th did that for her.

Now who wants to come sanitize that big ol’ mountain of new toys so the kid can actually use them?