Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Chickens and Bunnies and Horses, Oh My!

Your friend, Alba, turned four recently, and I think her birthday party was literally the most fun you've ever had. It was at this really cool art studio for kids in Roswell, and it had everything. The bigger kids had their choice of painting on canvas or on a piece of plaster. There was also a huge playroom with everything from a play kitchen to a Barbie dreamhouse.

They also had chickens and bunnies, and you were even allowed to pet them! You were a little skeptical about touching them, but you were very curious when it came to looking at them.

Your favorite part about the animals was that you got to show off all of your animal signs!

My favorite part was seeing you play with your friends and family!

First Weekend Away

I waited 13 months to spend even a single night away from you. It's not that I had been avoiding it; but I also hadn't gone out of my way to make it happen. Daddy had gone out of town for work once when you were just a little baby. I don't remember exactly when it was, but I know it was in that sweet spot before my return to work but after I had already gotten the hang of this mom thing. Taking care of you was my only job, and even then it was still hard to do alone for those two days. These days, I'm back at work full-time, you go to school 40 hours per week, and Daddy and I split the chores and errands pretty well. We have a pretty good routine down at this point. So I was a little wary of rocking the boat and sticking Daddy with 100% of the responsibility for four whole days and nights. I knew he could do it, but I knew it'd be hard to juggle his more vigorous work schedule while giving you the attention you deserve without me around for reinforcement.

But I've wanted to go to this conference for, like, a year. I know that sounds ridiculous. It's a conference; not a vacation! The APTA's Combined Sections Meeting is an annual conference that I've always wanted to attend. The conference kicks off with a big ceremony, a large part of which is devoted to honoring the newly certified specialists in our profession. This year, that includes me. I knew if there was a year to participate in this conference, this was it. Daddy and I talked about it months ago, and as much as he wanted to support me on it, he wasn't sure how we could swing it financially. Well. I'm a firm believer that if you want something badly enough and it's truly meant to happen, it will work out somehow. Sure enough, my work agreed to pay for the course registration, I found a cheap flight and a free place to stay, and I was granted "education leave" so I didn't have to use my vacation time. It was all falling into place, but I still hesitated. Daddy not only agreed to help; he encouraged me to go. He seemed eager to have some Daddy-daughter time, but also he knew this was important to me.

I started writing this sitting at the gate, and now I'm on my first (of two...stupid USAirways) flight to Indianapolis. I've had lots of feelings over the last couple of days. I cried dropping you off at school yesterday (something I haven't done in months) and I've been a little weepy ever since. I'm sad that I'm going to miss you, but I'm more worried that this time apart will kill our breastfeeding relationship. I know you'd be fine with that; you'd adapt quickly. I just don't know if I'm ready for it. I've had lots of feelings, but there is one feeling that I haven't experienced, though, and that's guilt.

This is huge for me, as I tend to "feel bad" about things pretty often. I'm a very sensitive person, and I take virtually everything to heart, even if it's not my place to do so. Taking you to school for the first time seven months ago was no exception. I went back to work because I wanted to. I kept telling myself that school would be good for you (and it is), but deep down I wish I had it in me to stay home with you forever. I felt selfish, and that made me feel bad. I often feel guilty when I have things that I want that don't include you, like a night out. But my head always wins over my heart, and I know it's best for all three of us to have our own lives.

I think the reason this trip was somehow exempt from my routine guilt trips is because I knew I was setting a good example for you. It's not often that one gets to spend so much time developing not only their career, but themselves as well. I'm required by law to take 30 hours of continuing education every two years in order to maintain my license, but I'm "encouraged" to take online courses or day-long courses over the weekend. This is not exclusive to my clinic; in today's healthcare climate, we're all expected to do more with less, and education is consistent with that trend. I realize that this may be one of the last opportunities I have to participate in something like this, and I'm glad I went for it.

Even though I didn't feel guilty, I did feel plenty of other negative emotions; all of these feels, however, were negated by love. Your daddy could have easily said that being a single dad for nearly a week was too much to handle with his work schedule right now. He could have easily said that even though I found a way to do this affordably, that we should be saving that money to spend as a family instead. But he did neither of those things. He supports me unconditionally because that's what love is.

I tell you all the time that your daddy is the best, and I really mean that. We're so lucky to have someone who loves us so much and is always willing to make compromises and sacrifices to make us happy. I try to do the same for him, and I hope you'll do the same for the people you love.

Daddy-daughter time, almost seven months ago

The Rest of Winter Break

I have just two other adventures to share with you as I recall the events of your second holiday season, so I'm cramming those two anecdotes into one blog post.

The first story involves my new favorite holiday: your birthday. I decided it was the BEST IDEA EVER to throw you a school birthday party in addition to your birthday party with friends and family. I bought these ridiculously overpriced organic/no added sugar/antibiotic-free/hormone-free/grassfed dairy cows/locally sourced yogurt (hey at least my conscious was clear), and brought like six of them to school for your teachers to give to you and your friends at lunch time. One teacher informed me that only one of your friends was allowed to have yogurt. (The thing with an infant classroom is that kids are at all different ages and therefore at different levels of development. There isn't a big difference chronologically between nine and twelve months, but there's a HUGE difference developmentally. So, I understood this.)

The funniest part of this story is that Daddy and I went to school to meet you for lunch. I always loved it with my mom and/or dad came to eat lunch with me at school on my birthday, so I thought we'd start this tradition now. You were totally confused by it, shy even. This was your face the entire time we were there:

But then, of course, you screamed your head off when we left.

Our other story is about your Abue's visit for New Years Eve. We weren't planning on doing anything for New Years, and we thought Abue and Mr. David were supposed to arrive after midnight. Ms. Karen called me last-minute to invite us to a party at their house, we decided to change our nonexistent plans for actual plans! We brought a Pack-N-Play, and you slept through the entire thing like a champ.

Abue and Mr. David actually ended up arriving around 10; they got their flight times mixed up. They didn't want us to have to change our plans, and we didn't want to miss spending time with them, so they came over to the Mayne's house and partied with us!

Abue and Mr. David's visit was really great. We got to spend lots of quality time together, and they spoiled you rotten with birthday and Christmas presents. One of the highlights of their trip for me was when we went to the zoo.

We have a membership, but we haven't been in a couple of months. It was so fun to see how much more into it you were this time around!

Happy First Bee Day!

You had, in my humble opinion, the most adorable first birthday party of all time. I wanted it to be a big deal, selfishly, to be honest. I was celebrating the anniversary of the day I became a mother, and I also felt like this was probably the one and only time I could get away with choosing the theme myself, as I'm sure next year you'll have an opinion!

I love doing things like this, so your day was the perfect excuse for me to enjoy my crafty side. I went for a baby cocktail party kind of theme; obviously only the grown-ups were drinking cocktails, but the decor was glamorous enough for a cocktail party. Oh, and I decided to use a provencal blush and gold kind of look along with some honey bees to inspire the little details.

We literally invited every friend in the ATL area who has kids. We also invited family and a couple of neighbors. Literally every single invitee came to celebrate with you (except for Abue but she came to visit for New Years).

You had so much fun playing with your friends, and we had so much fun being cheesy in the photo booth!

The cake didn't exactly work out the way I wanted it to. You see, I found some amazing Pinterest recipe where there was whole grain flour and no added sugar and blah blah blah. Well, the cake looked and tasted like bird seed, and the frosting was basically just a milk glaze. The entire point of a first birthday is to have lots of big fluffy frosting that you can smash into your face. Auntie Amanda attempted to save the dessert by adding tons of powdered sugar to the icing. This defeated the entire purpose of the healthy option I had found, but it made the cake palatable, and almost smash-worthy.

Fortunately, you still managed to make enough of a mess that it was slightly entertaining, at least amusing.

Afterwards, you had an unreasonable amount of energy, thanks to Auntie Amanda's frosting!

Best of all, you didn't even really crash too hard at the end of the day. It was a wonderful day celebrating, and you were completely surrounded by love.

{all photos by J.K. Riggs Photography}

Your Second Christmas

I don't really remember your first Christmas, and I'm sure you won't. But your second Christmas was pretty awesome. In fact, the whole holiday season was just tons of fun! You loved celebrating Hanukkah, and you were very good about keeping a safe distance from the menorah.

We spent Christmas Eve at Auntie Sara's house, where you had lots of fun playing with your family and eating yummy dinner. You even got to go look at some pretty cool Christmas decorations at her neighbor's house!

Christmas morning was the best part. You looked so in awe when we carried you down the stairs. What was all this stuff around the tree? How did it get there? We showed you where Santa ate the cookies from the night before, and then we let you dive in to gift opening.

After all that fun, you took a nap. When you woke up, Daideo was there with more presents! You napped again, and when you woke up, Auntie Sara was there with more presents! I was worried we were teaching you that Christmas morning happened every time you woke up, but you were very sweet and appreciative and didn't take it for granted.