Tag Archives: Family

C’mon get happy!

I posted an overly obnoxious and whiny caption on Instagram the other day and have been feeling lame about it ever since. I was—and still am—extremely frustrated by our new insurance situation as of late, but hey, we can afford (loose use of that word) insurance for our family and one way or another, I can see a doctor whenever I need to. So, time to get over myself.

As a recompense, here are some things that are making me not frustrated right now, 90% of which are food related because hello, pregnant.

1. Cream cheese + red raspberry preserves. Maybe I ordered a bagel with cream cheese, added the preserves at home and devoured the combo like a starved mountain lion. And then made two more pieces of toast so I could have more of it. Related: how are your New Year’s diet resolutions going, those of you not baking a baby? Suckers.

2. Mama got a new pair of boots. And baby is about to get fancy.



3. It’s been less of a meatless Monday and more of a meatless two trimesters over here, so I made vegetable enchiladas and they were filled with good veggies (albeit smothered in cheese) that I’ve been neglecting and lasted for three nights, i.e. I could slack on meal prep for two nights.

4. I ordered a decaf coffee at the Target Starbucks counter, and since they don’t keep a brewed pot of decaf, they made me a pour over. Holy delicious. It didn’t seem complicated until I looked it up; there are like 29 ways to make a pour over at home, so…whatever. Here’s my $3, pour hot water over powdered beans for me, please sir.

5. Doughnuts. I haven’t actually had one in a few months, but just the idea of them is putting me in a pretty good mood. Which reminds me of the ridiculous idea I had to do a pregnancy announcement using whimsically decorated Halloween doughnuts and the phrase “Something wickedly sweet this way comes.” Adorable, no?!



There was so much failure happening with the manifestation of this idea. First of all, the Dunkin Donuts commercials obviously used professionally trained, bakery owning frosting masters to craft the images I saw on t.v. Over at the ol’ local DD, I was treated to a “let me see what I can do” and gifted the scraggly interpretations of a moody teenager with some sort of clear musculoskeletal dysfunction. Then there’s the lighting, the giant plate, just a whole lot of no.

I was so annoyed I didn’t even eat one.

6. Breaking Bad. Not exactly an upper, but our two nightly episodes are little mini dates. Intensely graphic, drug-filled, cringe-worthy mini dates. We are at the beginning of Season 4 and OMG I want to punch Hank in the throat. (Source)

hank marie text1

hank marie text2

7. My brother (who is called Kunkle instead of Uncle) popped in this week and played with Addison for a couple hours. The next morning on the way to preschool, out of nowhere she shouted, “Kunkle’s here!” It melted my cold, dark heart.

8. Clayton, and now also Addison, playing the harmonica while Maya howls along. Never gets old.

9. Filling out paperwork and answering the “Occupation” section with “Writer.” Because stay at home pajama wearer, toddler chaser, kitchen avoider, stink eye deliverer and Instagram enthusiast usually takes up too much space.

10. The Bachelor is back and I don’t care who knows I am ALL IN already. With the sheer number of diagnosable alcoholics alone, this is going to be excellent television. SPOILER A’COMIN.

So sad to see you go, Tara. Thank you for representing Florida in a truly spectacular fashion. Enjoy that month long hangover. (Source)

drunk tara

Hello, old friend.

In one of the Daniel Tiger episodes (sorry non-parents), there is a song that goes
When you feel so mad that you want to roar,
Take a deep breath and count to four.

Here is where I would dramatically count to four with hand motions if you were my two-year-old.

My little blog sabbatical has been full of many, many days of wanting to roar. So I took a quick minute–okay, several months–to take a deep breath.

At the beginning, it was a lot of useless gasping and gulping and choking on stale air. Hopefully I will share more of that story later. But for now, with lungs that finally feel full and four easy ticks of the fingers, I’d like to come back. Perhaps only for today, perhaps for longer. No promises; never any promises on that front. Non-committal for life, yo.

Here is where it gets fun.falcor profile

Baby Numero Dos, or Falcor temporarily, will be joining us in May. And we are ecstatic.

Pregnancy has been mostly smooth sailing so far. The hormones seemed to have a calming effect that came at the perfect time. Life is so messy–plans are unplanned and courses rerouted all the time, so we welcomed this exactly-at-the-right-minute news with open arms.

Other happenings while I was away:

I was nominated/tagged by Molly (theregoesmollyrose.com) to complete a blog survey like 17 months ago. Oops. But there’s one more day’s worth of content ready to go at some point.

I missed yet another email to my blog account for many months thanks to never, ever checking that account. Sorry, lady-who-emailed-me-in-October!

Addison turned two in July and is pretty much ready to take over the world. She is a talkative, sassy fireball. Some days feel like a nonstop duel against her gigantic personality, but there are other times that I can’t help but shrug and marvel at her.

I turned 30. Let’s move on.



Dear Addison: 22 Months

Dear Addison,
When you are pregnant, the most common sentiment that you hear from other mothers is that “it goes so fast.” Since you hear this constantly and have no frame of reference, you nod knowingly in appeasement and sort of shrug. I mean, time goes fast. We all get that, parents or not.

But girlfriend. Let me tell you. Once you have sat in the front row and witnessed the grand spectacle of a newborn growing and changing into an infant into a celebrated 1 year-old into an unmistakable toddler, cooing to smiling to laughing to speaking words, lying immobile to faceplanting at the playground,

that is when your eyes water and your heart aches when you look at the clock, when you feel the weight of its motion, never ceasing, never slowing. It goes too fast. We move too fast. That baby left us too fast.


And in that same breath, we exhale with the immeasurable joy of your person, the uncontainable explosion of your personality that delights and surprises and horrifies us every day. We are so grateful to know this you, a little girl with preferences and peculiarities that are all your own.

Toddlerhood is a trip, baby little girl. Taking care of a baby is exhausting in the most basic lack of sleep, you can have the baby back if I can take a nap sort of way. Parenting a toddler is exhausting in the THIS TANTRUM WILL NEVER END, YOU CAN HAVE THE BABY BACK FREE OF CHARGE PLEASE SOMEONE TAKE THIS STRANGER OUT OF MY HOME sort of way.


You are a force, a tiny cyclone of electricity that is this way and that way, getting into this drawer, taking that off the counter, putting on those shoes, stepping on that tail, never, ever ending. (Until “Frozen” is on.) It’s physically tiring to chase after you, but it’s even more mentally draining to be responsible for this little human who seems hell-bent on discovering the most dangerous scenarios possible in a relatively safe environment and just going to town. Yes, climb on top of that unsteady ottoman. Yes, jump like you’re on a trampoline a quarter inch from the edge of the bed. Sure, why choose to walk around in Mama’s ballet flats when there are 4 inch stilettos for the taking.


I always judged women who admitted to losing their temper with their kids. I mean, they’re just kids, poor tiny innocent doe eyed kids. Ease up, woman! And then, I actually had one of those doe eyed innocents. And here I am some days, the spitting image of all the impatient, voice-raising, “If I have to tell you one more time,” shrill, no fun mothers that I was certain I would not be. I don’t want to apologize for those days, Addison. They are all part of this impossible-to-do-right chaos of mothering, and you can ride that singular fraying nerve like a longboard.

But I do want to tell you that that I try so very hard to remember the other days of this often challenging season. The days when you let me pick  you up to peek at the blueberry pancakes on the griddle and you giggle with anticipation. The days that you mimic the “beep, beep, beep” of the microwave from your crib as I heat your milk. The mornings when drinking your bottle at the other end of the couch is traded in for squeezing right up next to me. When instead of jerking your hand away at the park, you hold it up high, inviting me to join on this particular adventure. The one single day when you could not kiss my face enough, reaching up and taking my chin with a delicate grip and scrunching your face into a kiss right on my lips. Yes, that day is staying right here with me for awhile.


You color our world, Addison Brooke. You love performing for an audience, waving to strangers and shouting a brusque ”hey” if you don’t receive the appropriate response. You are obsessed with shoes–anyone’s–and shutting doors. You don’t mind getting dirty or going to bed when you’re tired. It seems that you learn new words every day, and remember things we’ve said or shown you only one time. You share with other kids (just not with me or your father) and will watch “Curious George” for a week straight. You’ve grown tall and lost most of your infant chub, which breaks my heart a little, especially the absence of those baby thighs that deserved individual names (Anderson and Cooper if we’re getting specific).




Maya is your best friend, and her wagging tail, wet kisses and back rolling tickle you to pieces. She tolerates you.


One of your favorite games is to “hide” when Daddy gets home. You will run to your room or behind my legs saying, “Shh! Shh!” You talk a big game, but when it comes to actually surprising anyone, you simply don’t have the patience to sit and wait for them. You are jumping out screaming, “Boo!” before he even gets in the house.IMG_1897

Some days, I am pacing the floor until your bedtime because raising you is not always an easy undertaking. But even on those days, when your Daddy or I pick you up and head towards your room, the idea of being away from you tugs at my heart. Whatever tantrums the day held, sleepy Addison is sweet and affectionate. You wave good night over our shoulder in a small, slow motion. You point to your cheek for a kiss. And then another. And then another. All the way into your crib, you ask for one more kiss. Some nights I have to walk away while you’re still pointing at your cheek or I’m sure I’d be there at sunrise, leaning down into your bed, my hair tickling your nose, pecking at your little face.


I am so glad that I’m the one who gets to hold your hand on the way to the car, who hears the full out laugh elicited by bath time splashing, the one who is asked for one more kiss.

I am so glad to be your Mama, Addison Brooke.

IMG_1641From My Whole Heart,


Writing about February & March in honor of April.

Some highlights from life as of late.

My old man actually became an old man. C-money turned 30, and, as far as we can tell, still has the metabolism of an 11-year old. Being the doting, selfless wife that I am, I up and got sick for his actual birthday and spent four hours of that evening sleeping. He made himself a nice steak dinner, which he got to enjoy in spurts while chasing after our toddler. The lengths I will go to to get out of cooking…astonishing, really.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

We rode that celebration train into the next couple of weeks, though, and gathered a bunch of our friends for a brew hop. (That’s not a thing, you say? Not so, according to the dazzling invitations.)

 brew hop invite

We started the afternoon at Cigar City Brewing, not listening to the tour guide and perking up whenever we heard the terms “free” and “beer” in close proximity. It was lots of fun to hang with our old college pals and felt exactly the same except for how much slower we all moved, how much less beer we could consume and still function, the presence of some friends’ baby, and the undercurrent of stories of our own kids that lasted throughout the evening. So yeah, identical to 2004.

C tori wes cab

 nat C goggles

After CCB we headed to Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. Twenty sweet friends came out, and my little hubs was pretty blown away. Not to mention, my SIL helped me surprise him with a cookie cake for dessert. Does anything say mature, responsible, professionally successful father better than a gigantic chocolate chip cookie covered in frosting? Didn’t think so.

cookie cake

We even after-partied for a bit, serenaded by a middle aged Irish tribute band with a heavyset guitarist of indeterminate gender. Rock on, Noa’s. Rock on.

 nat C gaspars

Over the course of the last six weeks, we also celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday, my brother’s birthday, my best friend’s birthday and my dad’s birthday. It’s enough, people. Stop aging, for the love.  

Everyone whined about daylight savings, meanwhile over here Addison has been sleeping past 8 a.m. nearly every morning since. Parenting win! 

Speaking of…there is an 18 month update post sloshing around in my head that maybe one day will see the light of day. Two months late, it still ain’t even close to finished. There is A LOT to talk about with this one, let me tell you. She is far, far from boring, and she keeps us all laughing hysterically and sprinting to stop her from doing a whole host of ridiculously unsafe behaviors on the reg.

Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.
Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.

I don’t really say “on the reg” in real life.

My bracket could not be more disastrous, but I feel like that’s a pretty common sentiment this year. Clayton is still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Bracket Champion at his office, so fingers crossed there.

I’ve still been running, but not really training for anything major. The several months of distance training burned me out mentally for now. I did run a 15k the weekend of Clayton’s party with my Jacksonville friend who was way too easily talked into running 9.3 miles.
Actual conversation
Me: Come a day early and run a 15k with me.
Her: Ok.

 tori nat 15k

I had some goals initially, but knowing that I hadn’t trained properly made me more realistic about what I should expect. And, shocker, I did not hit those goals. But I tried hard—and am still trying–to focus on the positives: my overall pace was a wee bit faster than my half marathon PR, and I was definitely middle of the pack in my age group, as opposed to back of the pack. Sounds silly, but that is a big improvement from when I started running seriously.

I was also so very tempted to call it a day when I realized my goal time was unattainable; I walked a few steps and that felt niiiice. But I told myself to get over it and run, there were strawberries to eat and beer to be gulped and cookie cake to be demolished. I needed to burn some mad calories heading into that weekend, so I kept on and hit my secondary goal of not being a pansy.

run addict
Taken less than 72 hours after I’d sworn off running for-ev-er.

The current plan is to do more speed work and focus on smaller distance races, mainly because come May, there is not a race over 5k to be found in Florida. We would all melt and perish trying to run more than three miles in summer. The first hard workout of this plan was this past Saturday when I had a hot date with some hill repeats. I loved it. It’s crazy and masochistic, but I love the challenge. Plus, the miles and the time go so much faster. 

We caught a Braves spring training game and were hooked up with some free Dave & Buster’s games. The rest of our group left after dinner. Our foursome (with a focus on one 30-year old in particular) hung around until stupid o’clock high on the “but it’s free! and you can shoot stuff!” endorphins.

C Brant Rambo

Those are all the big time bullet points from the last few months. I feel like my life is decently exciting until I try to write about it. Hello, snooze fest. But there you have it. Maybe that Addison post will be coming your way shortly because, let’s get real, she’s awesome and you need to know about it. 


I wrote this post several months ago but found it today and still got smacked in the face by it.


Last week, up to my elbows in soapy water and covered head to toe in the mess of motherhood, I lost it. Full on tears dripping into the clean dishes lost it.

And the most maddening part of all was that I ruined those clean dishes (not really, I totes put them in the cabinet anyway) for a phantom. For a nothing. For an imagined problem that nags at women and moms with an incessant chirping of you are not doing enough!

I am surrounded by strong, ambitious superwomen. They inspire me continually. But because we have been numbered and categorized since our first breath, my instinct is to begin numbering and categorizing the theirs against the mines. This friend does this job, and this job, and raises this baby, and volunteers there. That friend works there, works out that many days, earned that degree, and takes her baby to the library. That girl wakes up at this time, works those hours, cooks those meals, and always wears mascara.

And, inevitably, what follows is the conclusion that

I am not doing enough.   


What is “enough?” How am I supposed to know when I’ve reached it? When I can’t put down the computer until midnight every night? When I have to find someone to watch Addison five days a week? When I have structured, age-appropriate Pinterest activities planned and prepped for her every morning when she wakes up? When my husband comes home to a hot, home cooked, edible (<– key word) meal every night of the week?

Why are we am I in an all-consuming, head-down, relentless pursuit of a goal that is wholly subjective and indefinable? What am I even chasing? If I look up, what is ahead that drives me to justify neglecting the truly valuable in anticipation of some fleeting, self-prescribed merit?

Stop. Look to the left and to the right. That is the goal. Those are the milestones that build a city of memories, a lifetime of timely pauses and spare minutes. The race is not against mothers or friends or women who do things that I can’t or never will. The race is with them, a shared marathon with some paving the way, others coming behind and the  beautiful synchronization of friends striding beside you. Swooping in with home cooked meals that will taste better than any concoction you could dream up. Busting out their own hot glue gun and ribbon when you don’t have any more space in your head for DIY crafts. Walking into your house and scooping up your baby with the warmest familiarity.

Time to enjoy the space between afternoon naps and dinner, with a swing in the yard or wagon ride in the driveway, is not


or insignificant.

It is not a consolation for not having more important commitments.

It is


and so much more.

When responsibilities are met, and the must-get-done’s are done,
breathing, deep and slow, for a minute or an afternoon, is okay.

When did it stop being nourishing and start being indulgent to read a novel that wasn’t accompanied by a test that counted toward a degree, to take a nap because you were up three times with an unhappy baby or just because you are tired, to let the laundry pile up one more day because a lunch date with your daughter is way more fun?

I have freelance projects every week.
I am a full-time mother.
I volunteer at my church.
I take care of Addison while Clayton volunteers at our church.
I handle the cooking (or ordering) of our meals, the cleaning of our house, and the organizing of our schedule.
I keep my body healthy.
I go to a small group once a week.
I see friends and family as much as I can.
I write sporadically on a blog.

In what universe would this collection of identities not be enough?  I feel so compelled to fill in the gaps of every hour in order to feel accomplished, to be sure I am making the most of my time. But I know in my head that making the most of my time is defined by what and who gets most of my time. And I don’t what that to be a computer. Or a stranger. Or a brochure or web page that will wither and die.

Making something requires an intent to create, a choice to design a life that has some growing room, some space around the edges to relax for awhile. To allow for minutes that spring up when a cat finds its way into the backyard and needs to be watched through the back door, when the play area at the mall is completely empty for the first time ever, when your kid discovers how to flip over her toy table and climb on top of it but can only get down with a Mama’s hand.

Those seconds will sprint right past you if you are not so very diligent in making time for them.

And I have told myself I do not want to miss them.

I do not want more clients if it means less time with Addison, I do not want more volunteer commitments if the joy of giving is replaced by dread, I do not want quiet moments with my husband at the end of each day to be hijacked by exhaustion.

I want to find enough

laughter surprises spontaneity fulfillment joy confidence beauty

right here in this moment. Because I am certain it is there. I just have to stop and look.


Christmas & New Year’s 2013

As my husband has deemed it, Happy Flu Year! You may be able to guess, we’ve had a blech go of it around here lately. But let’s back up to before my body revolted against me.

Clayton had to work a half day New Year’s Eve. In normal people hours, that would equate to getting off at 12, but in the medical field a half day is going in at 7:30 and getting home at 3. What the rest of us slackers would call overtime. I’d tried to finish wrapping all the presents and packing and cleaning and whatnot, but I had Addison, so…yeah. I definitely didn’t finish. Or start.

Not staged.

Not staged.

Have you ever tried to wrap a present with a pre-toddler in the immediate vicinity? It should be a new way we torture prisoners of war. Don’t touch the tape. Get off the wrapping paper. You didn’t grab the scissors, did you? No, stop opening that, it’s not your toy. Give me back the tape. Where did I hide the scissors? Seriously, stop sitting on the wrapping paper. Do not hit the dog with that roll of paper. OMG, where are the scissors?!

And then just as you’re admiring your gleaming, bunchy, barely in tact, freshly wrapped present, a tiny finger darts in out of nowhere and rips the thing wide open.

This, times 28, was my present wrapping experience this year.

Proud of her mayhem

Proud of her mayhem


Anyway, we didn’t get on the road until 5 p.m. because we have sensors for beginning trips at the tip top peak of traffic. Any other plan would be too easy. We dropped off Maya at my parents’ house and made for Gainesville. We stopped at Perkins for a depressing orange and blue themed Christmas Eve dinner. I didn’t want to be Scroogey, but I’ve never spent Christmas Eve in a restaurant, and I don’t intend on ever doing it again. Especially a restaurant called Perkins.


We finally made it to Clayton’s sister’s house around 1 a.m. Since it was pretty late, Addison did fantastic on the ride. We played one episode of Barney on my phone (I stick it under the head rest of my seat facing her. Who says you need all the fancy bells and whistles?) and then she passed out.

Luckily she was good in the car because as soon as we exited the car, the tune changed. Loudly. She would not sleep in the pack and play ever. For the four days we were there, she took one nap in it and that was it. Otherwise, she was ninja kicking us or falling asleep directly on top of my face throughout the night or napping en route somewhere in the car.

Christmas hangover

Christmas hangover

Honestly, I did not have the highest expectations for spending Christmas with my in-laws. The relationships are many and complicated, as is the case in any family with that number of people. But Christmas was the best kind of chaotic–kids shouting (4 and 34 year old kids), tissue paper flying, claustrophobia settling in as everyone crammed into Clayton’s parents’ living room. All of his five siblings swear that the room has shrunk to half its original size since they were little. There was a sweet sense of nostalgia to see Addison opening presents in the same room that Clayton spent his Christmases.

Four generations

Four generations

We went outside to watch the kids fight over the prize present: four wheels of pure awesome. The car belonged to our nephew, but that certainly didn’t stop the girls from promptly kicking him off. It was a pretty fun morning despite the sleep deprivation.

She was a little too comfortable in the driver seat.

She was a little too comfortable in the driver seat.

We all headed back to my sister in law’s house for a late lunch and lounging. Like every night, we attempted to put Addison down and were met with shrill protesting, so we held her until we went to bed at some stupid early adult bed time.

One highlight of the trip was seeing ”The Desolation of Smaug” while Clayton’s mom watched Addison. I was completely confident and trusting and supportive of this decision and did not tear up when we pulled out of the driveway or obsessively check my phone and Clayton’s phone during the movie. The movie was good, but I can’t get over how pretentious it is that the correct pronunciation of “Smaug” has about 12 syllables.

Thursday and Friday I woke up feeling sore from head to toe. I attributed it to sleeping (or not sleeping) in a different bed, juking away from Addison’s flailing limbs all night and general exhaustion. My sister in law had been sick, so I knew there was a chance I’d caught it, but powered through. I did not want to be the lame in-law who came to visit and napped the whole time.

Clayton, his sister, Addison and I went over to downtown Pensacola for lunch Friday. It was a lot colder than we’d planned for, but it was a nice little break. After we drove a sleeping Addison around for a two hour nap we met up with Clayton’s other siblings and their kids for a date at the park. I didn’t have much time to notice how bad I was feeling while dodging my nephew’s pretend laser beams. Don’t worry, I got in a few good shots myself.

A tunnel

The whole crew–all 12 of us, including four kids under five–piled into Outback for dinner Friday night. If there is a sweet tea shortage in the south, you can thank us.

Friday night was no bueno. I had a fever and could not sleep, just laid there feeling hot and getting dropkicked in the rib cage. When we woke up Saturday morning, it hit me even harder. I felt awful. We packed and ate breakfast before leaving, and then we spent ten hours getting home. Ten hours crunched up in the passenger seat with a fever and full body aches and chills. What a delightful traveling  companion.

Saturday night was the worst. I was huddled on the couch, head and body radiating heat. Clayton scared me when he took my temperature, read the thermometer, took it again, and asked, “Are you feeling okay?” He left and came back with more medicine, even though he’d just given me some. I think I topped out around 102 and sweat it all out throughout the night. Thankfully I woke up Sunday feeling light years better. Still sick, but nothing like the previous few days. What a fickle little devil, that flu.

Things were looking up. Addison and Clayton were congested, but nothing major. We hung around the house Sunday doing nothing that we’d planned to do, like clean or unpack or take down Christmas decorations. And then Monday the bottom fell out with poor Addie. She wouldn’t nap unless draped on top of me. Of course she gets a pass when she’s sick, so I was fine with it. But when she woke up, she was clearly miserable. That lasted the rest of the day.

Later that night I went to get her because she’d started crying, and she was burning up. Her fever was just under 103. She wins. Long story short, we ended up at the doctor at 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve and the pharmacy shortly after. She tested positive for Influenza A, which also confirmed that I’d had that nasty little bugger.

Fighting off the flu with smoothies

Fighting off the flu with smoothies

Since then it’s been a sniffly, crying, gagging-on-Tamiflu party up in here. My clients are ready to sing my praises after I was sick a month ago, Addison was sick three weeks ago, I was sick last week, and Addison is sick this week. I’ve only had to reschedule the same phone call three times since I can’t get any sitters to watch Addison while she has the flu. This generation, such pansies.



Eventually we will get back on track. I will dust off my cardiovascular and muscular systems and actually exercise again. I will unstrap the Lysol disinfectant from my husband’s hip. We will remove our lifeless, sagging, fire hazard of a Christmas tree from our home. And perhaps I will think about a reflective 2013 post and plan for 2014.

But for today, we’re still sickies. We will eat our meals in front of the Disney Channel and leave our tissues on the carpet until we hear Clayton open the garage. We will play in our tent and maybe walk around the neighborhood. And hopefully we will not shatter a vertebra trying to finish off that Tamiflu.

Self-commissioned quarantine

Self-commissioned quarantine

Happy 2014!

An Evening with Al & Bill

Hey party people! Talking to myself there because the hubs and I lived it up until a rockin’ 11 p.m. last night. We were out and about for the nuptials of my cousin-by-marriage, Ryan, and his gorgeous bride, Lisa. (My aunt married Ryan’s dad, are you following?)

The ceremony was at 4:30, which in my world meant I needed to start getting public-acceptable around 11 a.m. when Addison was napping. Kids require you to plan your entire day’s productivity during two hour-long stretches while they are snoozing. Good luck trying to accomplish anything while they are coherent, especially wielding a flat iron.

Believe it or not, strong opinions or not, this was the very first time we left Addison with an actual “sitter” not related to us for an evening out. It’s just been way too convenient having family watch her because that costs us $0. Luckily this sitting superstar was available last minute when our original plans fell through, and she’s watched Addie a couple of times while I worked during the day. It definitely wasn’t $0, but we felt totally comfortable and I only sent one check-in text. Full disclosure: both my and Clayton’s phones were on their last leg of battery life all night, so that limited our obsessive, paranoid behavior.

It did not limit my brother’s photo bombing.

murphy wedding bomb

We all started to get a little loopy from hunger. Everything was beautiful, but we left for the ceremony around 3:30 and didn’t eat dinner until 8. I’m in training, guys. I need those carbs to fully commit to blogging instead of doing my long runs. Which is why I raided the chocolate bar once and sent my husband back to raid it a second time for me. Rolo’s make me a happier person. Just ask Clayton.

Debating if the centerpieces were edible.

Debating if the centerpieces were edible.

While we waited for the newlyweds, we sat back and let our tablemates, Al and Bill, entertain us. They took their jobs seriously. Al and Bill were friends of Ryan’s dad, and oh my gosh I wish my phone had more battery so I could have just recorded them and posted it here. Bill had never met Pedro and Brittany, the other couple rounding out our table, but unfortunately for Pedro, Bill has also never met the concept of personal space. I think his arm stayed permanently on the back of poor Pedro’s chair as he shared all of his reception commentary. And there was A LOT of reception commentary.

Bill lamented about not having the love of a good woman. Al comforted him by saying that he did have that kind of love…with his cat. And suggested Bill’s woes could be cured if he simply got a dog. They were quite a little peanut gallery during the toasts and Al had to physically muzzle Bill at one point. Let’s be honest–we all had an Al and Bill on our wedding guest lists. I’m just thankful I got to share a table and some uncomfortable giggles with this couple’s.

I was fairly certain this would be a rare non-dancing wedding for the Noa’s. But then the lights went low, Bublé turned to Usher, and this lady’s elbows started flailing.

Both of these dresses came from her closet.

Photo and dress credit: Allison.

Before I knew it, my butt was out of my chair and my fist was pumping furiously. Our husbands were slow dancing with their iPhones back at the table and couldn’t be interrupted for the likes of the two hotties gyrating spasmodically in their corner of the dance floor. Chumps.

nat clayton murphy wedding

We hung around long enough for cake, which I feel the need to mention was delicious despite my worry that it was fondant-heavy. As someone who has stressed about the look/taste bud appeal of this monumentally important piece of wedding history, it just feels right to say that I enjoyed every bite. Plus another handful of Rolo’s.

When my mother started gettin’ low, that was our cue to wrap it up.

family murphy wedding

The rest of the weekend will hopefully be spent pounding out 5 deliriously hot and slow miles, upgrading my phone and praying last night’s eyeliner hangs on until church Sunday.

Dear Addison: 11 Months

Dear Addison,
You are 11 months old! What a great job at growing you’re doing, little lady!

A cart leg

This month you’ve conquered some unbelievable feats. Walking, for starters! You’re still wobbly and prefer the stability of something to hold onto, but when you set your sights, you can take some serious bowlegged steps. Our highest step count is nine so far.

A shoes

You also graduated from your swim class, and I could not be more proud of you. I was worried before these lessons started that I’d be traumatizing you (and me) for life. But by the final week, you didn’t even whimper while you were in the water. You knew what to do and did it, happily splashing and waving at your fan club when you came back up. I love that you constantly exceed my expectations. What a great reminder that you are you, and what you will so often need from me is to simply understand and trust in your independence and individuality. It’s hard, baby girl, since every cell in my body reacts to protect you, but I will try to keep myself on the pool’s edge when that’s what you need.



Eating is still an adventure. I refuse to give you pieces of table food larger than a grain of salt, so meals can take some time. You’ve tried a bunch of new foods and like most things. Your absolute favorite way to eat is to pick the food up yourself and attempt to locate your mouth. Sometimes you actually do. It’s quite clear eating the food is secondary to the fact that you’re doing it yourself. If only your paranoid Mama would chill out and give you the whole dang banana already.

A eggs

You’ve made it through two Rays games at the Trop, which is almost unbelievable to me. I know grown men who can barely do that (looking at your dad).

noas rays fieldThis month, like all the others, seemed to trickle too easily out of my grasp. You are losing some of your baby chub and growing longer. I love that you are strong and healthy and thriving, but I hate that you are bigger by the day.

A car seat

A dog bed

Still, there are times when you are all baby. 

At 3:00 on an anonymous Tuesday afternoon, we sat swaying back and forth in daylight dimmed by happy curtains, as your exhausted hand draped carelessly across me, tiny fingertips tiptoeing along my arm. I sat still, every few seconds nuzzling my cheek into your baby soft hair, watching your tired eyes and mind melt from a daze, to a droop, to asleep. The world waited—as I always claim it cannot–because it must, because in that moment

you needed me.

And there was nothing else.

In that moment, awash in the purest glory, breathtaking stillness and sheer soul-gutting abandon, I was Motherhood. In its quietness. In its barefootedness. In its Tuesday afternoonness. In its old t-shirtness. In its snot wipingness. In its

hopeless devotion
heart wrecking love affair


You and me, we were Motherhood, there in a cushy brown chair. On a Tuesday afternoon.

And no matter how slim your thighs become, or how well you begin to swim, or how quickly those shaky steps turn into strides, the second you say the word, I will dive into the deep end and pull you to our Tuesday afternoon.

From My Whole Heart,

A window 2

A back seat

A N pool



Dear Addison: Ten Months

Dear Addison,
Last week you turned ten months old! And cue the tears. Mine, not yours, because you rarely cry. Thanks for that, by the way.

I swear I was just sitting down writing your nine month post. This month slipped right by. I have a sinking feeling this is exactly what I will be saying when you start kindergarten, graduate from high school and get married. Or when you get your GED, join the Peace Corps and head to South America.  

What I do remember about this month is that you are indeed a genius. Your imitating skills are clearly superior and you have surprised us by copying the way your Daddy plays the harmonica and the way I dance like a spaz. Most recently you grabbed my phone, put it on top of your head and said hello. We didn’t teach you any of those things, you sneaky little parrot. When you randomly display these feats of intelligence we just furrow our eyebrows and stare at you, look at each other, and then look at you some more. We know that you have already surpassed our measly brains and now we’re just sitting back imagining what you might do next. Your future will be more than we can claim in this life, and that is precisely what parents dream for their children.

Your love for Maya has grown by leaps and bounds. Meaning you leap and bound on top of her. You learned how to “throw” her bone for her (about three inches in front of you), and if she doesn’t want it, you will stick that thing right in her face until she takes it. I’m working on “easy hands,” but you will have no part of it. Before I can say unsanitary, you pluck hairs from her head and stick them directly into your mouth. I guess I should thank you for the free grooming.

You adore music and when I let you roam around the living room, you crawl right over to your Daddy’s guitar, seat yourself under it and begin clapping. Only a fiend would not indulge that request. Even my goofiest songs about putting on pajamas and dry heaving over your smelly diapers are pure gold to you.

We’ve experimented with several new foods, balking at the doctor’s idea to wait four days in between trying something new. Who’s got time for that when there are avocados, tomatoes, black beans and mashed potatoes sitting around? Surprise, surprise—you eat everything. It takes a village to sustain that belly.

A stick yard

I spent a large portion of our income on a food processor so that I can make you four course meals crushed into mush. I want you to love good food, to appreciate meals with family and friends, and not obsess about calories and jeans sizes. But I also want you to discover whole, natural foods that keep your beautiful body strong and healthy. It’s a balance that I cannot pretend to have found, but I work at it for you, so that you can see a woman who laughs around a table instead of worries, who accepts dessert instead of becoming defensive about her latest diet. It’s a tricky business being a girl getting to know food, and I want your earliest memories to help shape that relationship into an effortless, colorful, joyful experience.

Related: mashed bananas work better than hair gel.

This stage in your tiny life is still full of belly laughs from all those who get to be in your presence, fleeting snuggles when you are just tired enough, and pure fascination with watching your sweet soul take shape.

A shoe on headBut you are also on the move. Constantly. And being with you 24 hours a day is utterly exhausting. So your Daddy and I took a mini vacation over the weekend and left you with BeeMa and Abuelo. Know that I love you with every ounce of my being when I say this: boy was that nice. I think it was healthy for you and me to spend some time apart, to catch our breath and to learn that we can manage a [brief] separation.

A nat pool float

I also want you to grow up in a home where your Daddy and Mama love each other. Not in a we’re-married-and-stuck-with-each-other kind of way, but a genuine, look-at-the-way-they-look-at-each-other kind of way. This is the definition you will have of marriage, of commitment, of respect, of love. Your Daddy and I take that seriously. So when we go out on dates, or take a quick weekend trip, of course we’re doing that for ourselves, to deepen our relationship with one another. But we also do it for you. To show you what it looks like when a husband and wife are intentional about staying mad over each other, about creating time to be together, about being interested in each other as people. We think that’s one of the greatest gifts we will ever be able to give you, so that you know what to hold out for. And what to walk away from.

With every passing day, I am so giddy at the thought of spending this life with you. Of your future bursting into being right in front of my eyes. Surely, what a beautiful dance it will be.

From My Whole Heart,

Cinco de Noa

Clayton and I celebrated our five year anniversary this past weekend with a little jaunt over to Orlando. It was the first time we’ve ever left Addison overnight, so we decided to go big and really put our (my) willpower to the test and leave for two whole nights. Spoiler: We all made it out alive and without [too many] tears. The photo every hour rule helped tremendously.

But enough about my obsession with hanging out with my kid. Let’s talk about how gloriously indulgent two nights away felt for Clayton and me. I still can’t stop thinking about how awesome this weekend was and what a well timed reminder it became for how perfectly matched the two of us are.

When we came back Sunday, we went straight to a Mothers Day get together where my brother asked me how the trip was. “So much fun!” I answered immediately. He knew we’d only gone to Orlando, which, for Tampa natives doesn’t exactly scream vacation of a lifetime, so he looked at me skeptically and said, “Was it actually fun, or did you make it fun?”

And the best part about this weekend was the simple fact that I couldn’t tell the difference between doing actual “fun things” or just having fun being with my husband. I remembered that there’s never been a difference for us; we have fun going to Costa Rica and we have fun going to Wal-Mart.

Come to think of it, the reason for this trip’s raging success most likely stemmed from the very first stop of Cinco de Noa Weekend: the T-Rex Café. True story.

Clayton had discovered this gem while searching for activities in Orlando that might be appropriate for a baby-less pair of adults. Dinosaur themed restaurant with indoor meteor shower every 15 minutes? Jackpot!

If you are in Orlando, you must go. Cancel that lame dinner at Cinderella’s castle and park yourself next to the woolly mammoth. You’re welcome.

We stayed at the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, which is a full sized city in itself. We didn’t plan to go to any theme parks—weird for being in Orlando, I know—but we were within walking distance of Downtown Disney, which had plenty of stores, restaurants and oddly dressed foreigners to keep us occupied and shelling out cash for two days.

After our prehistoric adventure, we almost considered driving back home because clearly nothing was going to top that idyllic lunch. But we stayed because Priceline does not issue refunds. After Clayton napped off his dino excitement, we headed to a late dinner at Crave. Contrary to the photographic implications, I did not shave my head prior to hitting the town.
DSCN2449Crave is supposedly known for their sushi. We can attest that the normal peasant sushi is quite good, but beyond that you’ll have to ask someone else because we refused to pay $18 for one of their fancy rolls. Their Cigar City brown ale is tasty, too.


After dinner we checked out Orlando Brewing because we have always been suckers for breweries stuck randomly in industrial districts. After parking in Tampa, we followed the sounds of live music and college students celebrating the end of finals.

We knew we would be overdressed, but man were we overdressed. I felt like it made us look even older. Then the sight of a newborn being rocked to sleep to the sounds of an off key garage band not three feet from her mother’s cigarette smoke filled my blood with rage, and I knew we were possibly out of our element. I almost grabbed that baby and made a break for it at least three times, but I was wearing heels.

Saturday we did nothing for about four hours for the first time in I-don’t-know-when-we’ve-ever-done-nothing-for-four-hours. And we did our nothing on lounge chairs by the pools on a gorgeous, slightly overcast day. I did take some time to kick Clayton’s competitive butt at a water treading competition, but then I went back to doing nothing. He went back to modeling. Apparently it was photo shoot day at the Hilton.

IMG_3366My model is cuter.

We realized we’d stayed out by the pool about two hours longer than we’d estimated. Then we realized we didn’t care. And then we realized we were starving. A short 90 minutes later, I was finally ready to head to a super late lunch/super early dinner. And where else would we go but another wildly decorated, over-the-top themed restaurant? Rainforest Café, complete with hooting monkeys hanging over my head. Eating at Chili’s is going to be so boring now.

IMG_3368Clayton was jazzed because he got to use a coupon. Everyone wins at the Rainforest Café. Except the hostess who asked where we were from and, when we said Tampa, replied with “Oh, so that was a pretty short flight.” We replied with awkward silence. Because it’s a 45 minute drive. IMG_3369After linner (lunch/dinner), we walked the length of the Downtown Disney strip and parked it on a bench to watch the videos my mom sent of Addison. Watch. Re-watch. Repeat. By the time we walked back, the Ghiradelli store was calling out to me. It shows a great deal of restraint that I waited 24 hours after initially seeing it to suggest we stop in. Things got rather scientific when I decided to conduct an experiment testing the feasibility of consuming an ice cream cone equal in weight to my body mass.

Clayton, with all his sports medicine experience, served as my trainer and sat next to me quietly, periodically wiping the chocolate off my chin and giving me back rubs when I started to fade. I’m happy to report that the findings are conclusive: my sweet tooth supersedes all laws of physics and physiology. My husband is so proud of me. At one point he left me in search of a bathroom but came back quickly after catching the picture of me sitting alone on a bench trying to stop the melting drips of cookies ‘n cream with my face. I guess it was sort of a sad sight. Not to me, though. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.

Yep, my cone was the one hunting the weaker one.

We made reservations at one of the nicer restaurants on the strip and headed back to the hotel to get ready. Maybe your experience has or will be different, so I won’t tell you where we went for dinner, but I will tell you that we will not be going back except that late night rendezvous I’m planning to egg the joint. It was awful from beginning to end, from choosing to walk the eight miles from the hotel in heels, to getting seated right in the entrance and continuously forgetting if we had actually been called or if we were still waiting, to our nearly inedible entrees. No bueno.
IMG_3382It tasted exactly like it looks.

We decided neither of us was allowed to mention that dinner ever again. We even went back to the hotel to change out of our Sunday best into our Saturday denim and sandals to really get the stench of that hour off of our bodies. We walked back to Downtown Disney—much more pleasantly in flats—to an Irish pub that had a duo playing music outside. Best anniversary downgrade ever. It was right up our jeans and t-shirt alley. We threw caution and post-partum weight loss to the wind and ordered potato skins at midnight. That’s big time partying right there. We stayed out until after 1 a.m. Look at us being hard core.

Then we had a hard core breakfast at Perkins Sunday morning before heading to my parents’ house to body check any aunts standing in the way of our little nugget. Some serious snuggles were in order, even though Addison didn’t seem to recognize the fact that I’d been out of her life for 48 hours and that she should have been screaming in excitement upon my return. Brat. But I still chewed the crap out of her thighs.

Since Addison’s obviously okay with it, I now fully support weekend trips at least once a month. Just not to Orlando where sushi is $18 and regular coffee is $4.

Happy Cinco de Noa (and matching dino shirts) to us! DSCN2452