Sweet Summer Time

Sweet Summer Time

“PSA to parents – you only have 18 summers with your children, so make them count.”

Talk about pressure.

I don’t know where I heard that quote but it has definitely stuck with me. I love that I can spend fourteen weeks of summer with Millie but here we are, two summers deep and I already can’t remember what we did during our first summer together! Thankfully, this blog helps to jog my muffled, mommy memory. Leaving Mill every weekday is rough. I love teaching music and the start of a new school year is always exciting but I miss our snuggle time in the morning, eating lunch together, and I especially miss taking mid-morning naps. So, here’s a post to commemorate our summer (because God knows I will forget by fall).

Millie’s favorite breakfast was a bowl of multigrain Cheerios with almond milk and a side of fruit, usually strawberries or blueberries. She’s gotten really good at using a spoon! Her go to lunch was veggie chicken nuggets (dipped in ketchup), steamed broccoli, and black olives that capped her fingers before they went into her mouth. She breastfed twice a day; before her afternoon nap and bedtime.

It was impossible trying to keep the living room clean. I’ve heard, “You can have a clean house when the kids grow up and leave the house but once they do, you’ll miss them in your house, messy and all.” and my OCD does not care about that for one second. Every time one mess would get organized, Mill would have two more activities out, while playing with something totally different! Then inevitably, it would be meal time and I’d have to walk away from the mess in the living room, just to make a new one in the kitchen! It was definitely one step forward and two steps back when it came to cleanliness this summer. It was best just to clean everything at night, after we put Mill to bed, so we could start fresh the next morning. BTW- she started sleeping in her own bed, in her own room, and through the night this summer..so there’s a win!

Traveling to Texas and Washington DC were easily some of our most memorable adventures this summer. (You can read all about our Texas vacation in the previous blog post.) We went to the DC Zoo with my mom, step-dad, and sister. We drove about two hours, braved the heat, and saw pandas for the first time! Mill loved them. Her paw-paw Kev got her a panda book and stuffed animal panda bear. She’s gotten pretty good at saying their Chinese names, too! On an episode of Daniel Tigers Neighborhood, (that’s a regular show in our house now) there was a quick clip of an actual panda playing in his enclosure and before they said the bear’s name or even the name of the zoo, I was able to identify both. Needless to say, we got a little “panda crazy” this summer.

“Pool?” Mill’s little voice would ask constantly because she loved being in the water this summer. She rotated between a striped, watermelon bathing suit and a hot pink, pineapple suit. To dry off, she used the cutest, hooded Daniel Tiger towel. We set up a small, blowup pool in our backyard, which ended up being more work then fun; it would only stay clean for a day or two before getting slimy and gross, the hose water was freezing, and the pool killed our grass no matter where, or how much we moved it. Next year, we’ll be getting a sprinkler. Mill loved going to her Gam’s pool while we were in VA; she would play with other kids, go under the sprinklers, and go swimming in the deep end with her Aunt Nani. At Zoombeezi Bay, a waterpark connected to the Columbus Zoo, Millie enjoyed going down the water slides (she was too little for some of the slides and would end up with a face full of water). On two occasions, Mill got to play in splash pads. Although she loved it, I was a nervous wreck with the possibility of her slipping and falling on the wet concrete; thankfully, that never happened. She liked playing in her water table, especially on the day that her dad and I attempted to power wash the house; we all got soaked.

We did another session of Zumbini this summer with an instructor that Mill loves. The class was early on Monday mornings and every week, Millie was excited to get dressed and go. Mill surprised me with her dancing and instrument playing; she can play the triangle with great technique and started to twirl and stand on her toes. Frustrating to me, some mothers would bring their newborns with them to class, which of course distracted Mill because she loves babies. She would want to touch the babes and play with them instead of listening to the instructor. And sometimes the moms would get irritated with Mill wanting to see their baby – hello don’t bring your newborn to a toddler class. My grandma made Mill a scarf like they used in class so she could continue to practice her Zumbini dances at home. This girl loves to dance.

Millie loves people, being outside, and anything loud so we decided to take her to our community’s firework show. Her patriotic outfit was absolutely adorable and her pigtails had sequin bows. She rode in her wagon and waved at children we passed finding the ultimatum viewing spot. Mill and her daddy kicked around a soccer ball while we waited for the sun to go down. Once it got too dark to see the ball, I tried my best to explain to Millie the loud booms the fireworks would make. I showed her a fireworks video so she would know what to expect from the show. During the fireworks display, she bounced between mine and Chris’ laps, completely unafraid. Mill was interested in the fireworks for the first three minutes and then asked for baby videos; she loves babies.

We found out in July that we will be having a baby, expected in March! Good thing Mill has taken such a liking to them. Next summer will be different but I’m sure just as memorable.

Memories of Millie in TX

Memories of Millie in TX

“The stars at night, are big and bright (clap, clap, clap, clap) deep in the heart of Texas!”

My little family was invited to my friend Amber’s wedding on a cruise ship ported in Galveston, Texas. I love weddings and I had never been to Texas so I was eager to propose this trip to my husband, Chris. Unfortunately, I cannot stomach cruises. “Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby!” (As I write this post, I am thinking of musical interludes; bear with me.) I have been on a cruise once before. It was a five-day, Carnival cruise that sailed from Florida to the Bahamas. I was green the entire time, even when taking motion sickness medicine, and bedridden for two days because of the nausea. It was safe to say that there would be no more cruising for me but thankfully, the wedding was to take place while the ship was docked. I called Amber’s travel agent and got to work planning our Texas vacation.

Columbus to Houston:

  • We flew Southwest on a flight with many others attending the wedding including one of my best friends, Shauna. The plane had almost forty unmanned seats so we were able to take Millie’s car seat on board with us, even though we had not purchased her a seat (funny what brings me joy in my adulthood). Millie fell asleep and I watched, “How to Train your Dragon 3” (I don’t always adult) using the Southwest app – hooray for free video streaming!

Houston to Galveston:

  • The humidity in Houston was aggressive; I was sticky from the walk from the plane to the terminal. My ears perked up hearing a string quartet playing live music in the airport lobby. We grabbed our luggage, packed up our bright, blue rent-a-car, and went to Walmart to grab an umbrella stroller to use throughout our trip. (We did not want to bother with bringing both a car seat and a stroller on the plane.) Chris picked a Minnie Mouse stroller for Mill and I found a cute, Texas tank top for six bucks.
  • We stopped at Fuddruckers to eat dinner. There are no Fuddruckers restaurants in Ohio so it was neat eating at a restaurant that we hadn’t been to in awhile. There were arcade games and while we waited for our dinner, Chris attempted to win Millie a stuffed animal from the claw machine – he was defeated. There was also a “test your strength” game that measured how tight you could grip two metal rods. Of course, Chris thought it was hilarious when my strength measured, “wimpy”. We ate our veggie burgers and left for the hotel.
  • The roads in Texas are atrocious and I was so thankful that Chris was the one executing them. I felt like we were constantly merging and my anxiety was racing. It didn’t help that some of the roads in Galveston were flooded from a storm the night prior.

Galveston:

  • Our hotel room had a balcony with a beautiful view of the gulf. Seeing the water made us all excited to get to the beach so we packed our towels and left for the boardwalk.
  • There was a strong wind coming off of the waves but that didn’t stop us from having a great time. The water was warm and the sand was packed down from the high tide. Mill was so light she didn’t leave footprints when she walked. I stood in amazement watching Millie brave the water. Looking out into vast ocean didn’t phase her; she ran to it.
  • While I took pictures during my friend’s wedding, Chris watched Millie and they ate free food (the staff didn’t know that we weren’t cruising). It was hilarious when Millie started a babbling argument with the cocktail waiter when he didn’t hand her a drink at the reception. The wedding was absolutely beautiful.

Houston:

  • After the wedding, we met up with my friend, Alicia, at the Kennedy Space Center. We were impressed with the amount of exhibits with interactive learning. Millie loved exploring the space center. We bought Millie an astronaut doll and named her, Sally Ride. Strong women raise strong women.
  • Best tex-mex in the world, PapaCito’s Cantina. Fact. My mouth is watering just thinking about that magical place. Our waiter, J-rod, was amazing; he brought free food to try because it was our first time eating there and he gave Millie a ball of dough to play with while we waited for our meal. The food was beyond delicious; Chris had fajitas and I ate nachos – the flavor was out of this world! I so wish a PapaCito’s Cantina would open near us.

Waco:

  • Shoutout to the Fairfield Inn and Suites for having veggie sausage in their continental breakfast buffet. Us vegans were extremely appreciative.
  • Chip and Joanna Gaines put this city on their back. The hotel receptionist said that the Silo District brought Waco back to life. We spent three hours at the silos; eating cupcakes (Oh. My. Gosh. Yum.) shopping at Magnolia, drinking sweet tea from a mason jar, and playing in the garden with Mill – she had to smell every flower and whisper, “ahhh” in admiration.
  • Waco has a National Park with preserved mammoth remains. A park ranger walked us through the excavation site and apparently Millie already knew everything because she would interrupt the ranger to address the group with her baby babbles and hand gestures.
  • We stopped at Magnolia’s, Little Shop on Bosque, the Gaines’ original home decor store, to pick up a new shirt for Millie after she spilled the sweet tea down the front of her. The store was so small – I’m sure it must be humbling for them to see how it all started. The shop currently sells discounted items so we were able to get her a nice, linen shirt for cheap.
  • If you are wanting to shop in Waco, look no further than, The Spice Rack. This building houses hundreds of vendors selling the cutest stuff. I was able to pick up Millie two new pairs of Burt’s Bees pjs for less than $10 a piece. Mill left with a rubber duck wearing a cowboy hat, that we named, Dolly Duckton. “Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition.” Unfortunately, I fell up the stairs walking to the bathroom so that was embarrassing; praying not too many people saw that trip. Good news though, I was not hurt, just my pride.
  • We visited Cameron Park to hike Jacob’s Ladder, the infamous country club climb. It was a steep incline and the steps were uneven stones. I was grateful that Chris carried Millie up because I struggled to keep my balance. The view from the top was just okay which was disappointing after reading such raving reviews and the mosquitos were atrocious. I’m sure if we lived in Waco, we would visit this park often because it was spacious, shaded, had picnic tables and play gyms for the kids, hiking trails, etc.
  • Waco has a walking bridge with larger than life, longhorn sculptures to memorialize the cattle trade that took place there. Millie was excited to be able to run around however, there was a large gap below the railings of the bridge that a toddler could easily tumble through and fall into quick-moving, deep water. Needless to say, we kept Mill close to us on this adventure.

Fort Worth:

  • Experiencing the Stockyard was like being in an old Western film, sans the bar fights and shoot outs. Mille and I sat on the back of a longhorn (she didn’t care for that) and she went on a pony ride. The man administering the rides told us the horse she rode was named, Lil Sebastian. He later came clean and admitted he heard Chris and my conversation about Parks and Rec, and he couldn’t help himself; the pony’s actual name was, Peanut. “He’s 5,000 candles in the wind”.

Dallas:

  • Our COSI memberships had reciprocity at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Amazingly, there were tons of fossils, not just casts displayed. The gemstone exhibit was beautiful and the children’s area was a lot of fun for Mill. It was designed like downtown Dallas and for an out-of-stater, I appreciated this personalized touch. At closing time, Millie still wanted to play, so she enjoyed the splash pad at the entrance of the museum. She was soaked but wasn’t cold- Texas was so hot.
  • We spent our final evening swimming in the hotel pool, watching a Cubs baseball game on tv, and ordering sushi for dinner.

Our trip to Texas was another grand adventure for my little family. I’m so grateful for the memories we made and the moments I won’t soon forget.

Makeup and Millie

Makeup and Millie

I have vivid memories of watching my mom put her makeup on in the bathroom mirror. Sometimes she’d ask me to brush her long, dark hair and add a polishing cream to the ends to make the stray hairs lay down flat. I remember being envious of how beautiful she looked and wondering if I’d ever grow up to be that pretty. “Maybe when I’m 27”, I’d think.

Before I was allowed to wear makeup out of the house, my mom insisted on teaching me how to properly apply my foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. When I’d wear too much eyeliner or dark eyeshadow, per my mother, she’d take my makeup away until I was ready to wear it correctly. If I was grounded from wearing makeup, I’d borrow my friend’s eyeliner and apply it in a car mirror on my way to school; totally gross, but middle-school-me didn’t care. Reflecting on those years, I am grateful that I had a mother who invested time into me; I know that not all children get to experience that.

This year, I’ll turn 27, and one of the best compliments I receive is how much I favor my mother. After a much needed, adults only, double date, my reluctant husband accompanied me to Ulta for an, “in and out, I know exactly what I’m getting” shopping trip. $80 later, I was a happy girl and my husband, will never step in that store again. I picked up two new hair products, an eyebrow pencil, two new makeup brushes, a lip moisturizer, a beauty blender, and new foundation. I couldn’t wait to use my new goodies!

My mother taught me to smile when applying blush to my cheek bones. I was to pull the blush across my cheek, at an upwards angle, to the side of my face. She was teaching me to contour, bless her! I still use my moms makeup methods today and Millie now watches me in the bathroom mirror. Somehow, my sweet angel must have gotten very confused because she used mommy’s new blush brush to scrub the toilet. My husband saw her first, took the brush from her, and he found it hysterical; “that’s one way to use it!” Blush brush = toilet scrubber.

The next day, while I was curling my hair, Millie decided to paint the bathroom cabinets. (She found a dry paint brush and it kept her occupied.) I was singing and she was babbling. I finished my hair, looked down to compliment Mills work, and to my surprise there were brown drawings on my white, vanity doors. At some point, Millie dropped the paint brush, found my new eyebrow pencil, and went to town! My husband found that funny, too.

Millie’s “innovative” ways of using makeup has surpassed anything that I could’ve thought of. The drawings have yet to be erased. Cheers to 27, makeup, and daughters.

Turd in the Tub

Turd in the Tub

Millie has always enjoyed the bath. I will never forget balancing her on my left forearm while bathing her in my kitchen sink. When she first learned to splash, she’d get water in her face, blink, and gasp; inevitably I’d get soaked. She would try to grab the water coming out of the faucet with her clumsy, little hands. I still love to rub oil on her clean, baby body when she’s fresh out of the tub. And how adorable are baby towels with the attached hoods?

This summer, Millie loved swimming in the pool; she would relax in her floaty, letting the water move her around. We swam in three different pools this season and each got Mill’s approval. When Millie was six months old, My grandma, Mill and I traveled to VA to visit my sister, who lives on the beach – I’m so jealous of her daily view – and Millie loved the ocean; she would yell at the waves when they would ripple away.

I include Millie in my Saturday morning shower and she clings to me while the water hits us. I spray shaving cream on the wall for her to play with. She doesn’t mind when the water hits her face and it’s probably because she dumps water on her face, daily. When Millie attempts to drink from a cup, she tips it back too quickly and the water splashes out and spills everywhere – she doesn’t seem to mind getting wet.

I read in, What to Expect When You’re Expecting: 1-2 years, that babies can start to revolt against the bath around 15 months. I shrugged it off considering how much Millie enjoys the bath – my karma. The next evening, after a delicious (but messy) taco dinner, Millie needed a bath. I undressed her, set her down in the tub, and she started to cry, real tears. I checked the temperature of the water; fine. I checked to see if she was sitting on anything uncomfortable; nope. I began singing to calm her down; didn’t help. I gave her, her waterbaby to play with; she pushed it away. I quickly washed the black beans off of her arms and face and took her out of the tub. As soon as I lifted her from the bath, the tears ceased.

I feared that the tub was now a time of terror and unfortunately, the next time a bath was necessary, cue the waterworks. I was determined to not let bath time turn into a habitual melt down, so I stripped down to my undergarments and joined my daughter in the tub. I poured water on myself and said positive things about the tub with a smile on my face, trying hard not to think about the baby pee that I might have been sitting in; and it worked! She stopped crying and began splashing and kicking her legs under the water. I felt victorious having navigated my daughter through a developmental hurdle.

That feeling soon changed when I saw a stream of bubbles floating up from Millie’s backside. I turned my attention to her face and she was turning a shade of red; pushing. As I lifted her from the water, attempting to sit her over the toilet, a turd accompanied us in the tub, corn kernels and all. A turd. In all its glory. A floater in the tub. The What to Expect When You’re Expecting book did not properly prepare me for bath time trauma for the both of us!

Why the Bonnet?

Why the Bonnet?

“Stop making her look Amish.”

Chris and I changed many things in our lives once we found out that we were expecting; we censored our language, started using laundry detergent with cleaner ingredients, we re-carpeted our second floor, etc. We both agreed that we wanted to raise Millie differently than the loud, flashy, plastic, commercialized, technology-promoting, societal-norm.

When I envision a simplistic upbringing: knit clothes and wooden toys, piano lessons and singing together, rocking chairs, home cooked meals with fresh ingredients, speaking to each other around the dinner table, and church on Sunday morning. I understand that we may not be able to live this way 24/7, but striving for a simpler life is my prerogative. Texting my children that dinner is ready, eating McDonalds on T.V. trays while watching Pat Sajak on The Price is Right, is not my ideal family environment. For some families, I just described their quality, family-time and that’s cool for them, it’s just not the “goal” environment for us.

I first put Millie in bonnets when we began taking her outside of the home; she was around 3 months old. Not only are bonnets nostalgic and darling, but they also help to protect from the wind, rain, and sun. Millie was born with a full head of hair however, she lost it all within her first month of life and for the next six, she was a bald-beauty. In early March, I was worried that Millie would catch a chill if her head wasn’t covered, so she wore a bonnet. In the aggressive July sun, I didn’t want her fair skin getting burned so she wore a light, brimmed-bonnet to shade her face.

The bonnets she wears fit snug on her head, so they stay in place, and she keeps them on all day. Millie has knitted, brimmed, cotton, linen, embroidered, and reversible bonnets. Just as I change my accessories upon my outfit, she has different bonnet options. Her bonnets are nothing like the plain, white bonnets that Amish children wear. Millie’s bonnets have beautiful patterns.

We have received many compliments on her bonnets; at church, at the doctors office, exploring around Cleveland, etc. Once, a lady told me, “I love when babies wear bonnets, it makes them look like such, babies”. Isn’t that funny? Why are we so quick to dress our babies like adults, give them tablets, and sit them in front of a screen for hours at a time? I digress.

When Millie is older and can vocalize her wants more, maybe she will choose to not wear bonnets. Until then, Millie will keep wearing bonnets and I will continue nurturing and protecting my bonnet-wearing babe.

Locks of Millie

Locks of Millie

How is it possible to take such pride in a strand of hair?

White, moving follicles I observed from your ultrasound.

Hair that I washed while holding your body effortlessly in one arm.

Counting the strands you lost during your first nights sleep.

Covering, protecting.

Longer it grows; you are beginning to take steps on your own.

Growing thicker from the nutrition you continue to receive from my body.

Independently combing your hair by running a tooth brush behind your ear.

Your hair. Different than mine.

I cherish the smell of you through your hair.

Masters in Motherhood

Masters in Motherhood

It was always my plan to obtain my masters degree before getting pregnant however, my hormones had a different agenda. I work best under pressure, which is why I stay busy, but after listening to the advice of my husband and my counselor, I decided that after Millie was born, I would take a semester off. Millie was due in mid-December, the week after my fall semester finals, but due to preeclampsia, Millie arrived ahead of schedule, in early November; I still had four weeks remaining in my courses. Given the situation, my professors were completely understanding and they were lenient on due dates. During the first four weeks of classes, I completed many assignments ahead of time; perk of being a workaholic, and that helped a lot, too.

I quickly learned how to pump and type, simultaneously. Sleeping when the baby slept wasn’t a thing; while she slept, I did homework. I hate that her first month of life is such a blur in my memories. I wish I could’ve been more alert and aware but I was recovering and dog-tired. Thankfully, there were many pictures and videos taken during that time, and I indulge in them often.

I had almost gotten accustomed to my work load of sheer exhaustion when winter break began. Taking the spring semester off put me behind on my degree completion plan and looking back now, I wish I could’ve powered through. (The quicker I complete my degree, the sooner the repayment period begins for my loans, and the quicker my loans are forgiven.)

“May your college memories last as long as your student loan debt.” – a wise and financially broke man who attended college

I am very fortunate to be on a student loan forgiveness plan through the US government. I went to an expensive, private, music conservatory for my bachelors degree and I racked up undergraduate debt. I am five courses away from completing my masters degree from another expensive, private university and I tacked on graduate school debt. If I work ten years in public service (teach) while making my minimum, monthly student loan payments (120 payments in total) all the rest of my debt gets forgiven. Hallelujah!

Before I had Millie, teaching music was my life’s success and now, my whole life is Millie. She’s everything to me. Sometimes I wish I never went to college because I wouldn’t be in college debt and I would be able to stay home and raise my baby. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching music, I just feel guilty about teaching other people’s children during the day and not being there for my own. My grandma went into retirement and watches Millie at our house while my husband and I work; I am so grateful for her help and that we do not have to put her in childcare. I know that I am setting a good example for my daughter by working and continuing my education however, my heart aches every time I walk out the door.

I will be graduating with a Masters of Art degree in music and worship, in ten months. Typing that makes me smile. That will put me on a higher pay scale at work and it will free up more of my time to spend with Millie. I’m proud to be completing this journey with a baby on my lap – today, she pounded on my keyboard and erased a good amount of my book report. Millie will know that her mom valued higher education and working women. I pray that my perseverance will inspire her.

– now onto that book report that’s due by midnight.