Sunday, February 22, 2015

To Bed A Baby...To Wake A One-Year-Old

I put my last baby to bed tonight as an infant for the last time.  I was getting all I decided I would write a fun recap of her birthday party today, rather than wallow in my ending of the infant year that will expire at 1:47am.  Seriously, how did a year go that fast?

First a few party prep pics...
Her invitation.  I fell in love with this idea...selfishly for the keepsake that I will have for the future.
I made Stella an allergen free cake.  It turned out really yummy, if I do say so myself!  Want the recipe for your little peanut?  Here it is.
Benjamin doesn't write on my chalkboard often, but when he's always awesome.  I love that I just gave him a general idea of what I wanted and he took it from there.
Here is her finished cake!  It's not about perfection.  It's about the love that it was made with.  ;)  It looks about the same right now....  
Cupcakes for the rest of the guests.
Messages in a Baby Bottle.  This pic was taken before the party, but now it is overflowing with messages from guests to Stella, for her to open when she is 18.  
This little cheezer had no idea how much fun was about to ensue!

 I "hired" Jillian to color all of the crowns for our game, Pin the Birthday Crown on Stella.  She loved the job.  She is contemplating it as a career.
 Stella, her Great Uncle, and Great Grandpa!
 Two baby sisters.  Stella and my baby sister, Erica.
I can't even believe we are already here, a year goes so fast.
 My sister Sarah, Stella, and I.
 Sarah found this champagne, Stella Rosae.  It wasn't full long.
 Another Great Uncle.  He let her sneak an early present.  Definite uncle brownie points.
 Stella was the first to pin her crown (the special one made only for Stella) on herself.  No blindfold necessary for her! 

Stella handing out the crowns!
 Time to open presents!  She was lucky to have help from her brother, sister, and sweet cousin Josephine.

 Cake time!  She daintily picked at it, but didn't follow through on the smash that her brother and sister were really hoping for. 
This photo is about as close she got to actually eating any of it.  Not pictured...her putting it down without taking a bite.
 My very favorite gift every year...  A video of Stella's entire first year from her Aunt Brooke.  It's priceless.  Oh - and that first year video...always gets me weepy.
 Still happy after the festivities!

 ........And this is the little peanut that I put to bed a few hours ago. 

Dear Stella Rose,

No matter how old you are, you will always be my baby.  I love you with all of my heart and you complete our family in such a perfect way.  A year ago, right this very minute, your Daddy and I were anxiously awaiting your arrival.  We didn't know yet that you would be such a content and happy little girl with so much love to give.  We didn't know that you would fit into our family like the perfect last piece to a puzzle.  We know all of that and so much more now.  We know that you are such an affectionate little lover.  We are millionaires in the kisses and cuddles bank.  You are so friendly and look at new situations as a fun adventure.  You love your dolls and lovies like no baby I have ever seen.  I think it is a preview to the mother that you will be someday.  I love to watch you learn and grow and I look forward to so many thing in your future.  Let's just take things day at a time though.  I love you with all of my heart, my little Stella Rose.

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists...

Love List...

  •  These two.  They assume their after school post everyday, waiting on their favorites that are sure to arrive soon.
  • Watching my husband coach basketball.  This isn't the first year, and I have watched him coach other sports too...but this year basketball is different.  Frankly, the team just isn't very good.  I love watching him stay steady and patient even when they are down by 24.  I love that he still lets every first and second grader have their turn playing each position, even when the kid noted to play guard this quarter can't dribble very well.  I love that he celebrates each basket that the kids actually do make, like they aren't losing by a huge deficit.  This week after losing by over 20 points, I said something about it being a rough game for him.  His answer?  "It was a great game.  I had two kids that have never scored a basket, score."  I love that.  He says at this young age it's not about winning, it's about learning how to play the game.  I love him.
  • Monday night girls cuddle night.  Our boys are at practice, so the three girls get into out jammies early every Monday night and cuddle up for a couple hours.  Jillian starts looking forward to Monday night on Tuesday morning...for the next week. 
  • Every evening when the garage door begins to rise to announce Ben's arrival home from work, Stella starts yelling "Hi, Dadda!  Hi, Dadda!  Hi Dadda!" until he is inside to hear her.
  • Young Living Essential Oils.  Seriously, I can't tell you how much they have changed my family's healthcare.  My kids, especially Myles, have such an interest in those magical little drops of wellness.  If you ask him what oil might help for your ailment, he just might know the answer!  He has already informed me that he will need his own oils to take with college.
  • Every other Monday I work in Jillian's classroom.  I love getting to know her little friends and being a tiny part of their school day.
  • Although Stella only says a handful of words (Hi, Bye, Mama, Dada, All Done, etc) somehow she always finds a way to communicate what she wants to get across.  Yesterday, as my mom was cutting some grapes, she emphatically pointed and grunted at the grapes and then her plate over and over again.
  • Last week I picked up a few things for the kids for Valentine's day.  I grabbed a little doll for Stella and gave it to her to play with in the cart while we shopped.  She hasn't let is go much since.  Guess she got that little V-day gift a little early!  That girl loves very passionately.
  • I'm planning my last first birthday party for later this month.  Seriously, how did a year already pass?  Take a look at this little crown!  Love!!  A sweet friend has inspired me to raise my game for her little party.  She doesn't know that she is my backup plan if the cake looks like hell!  I'll be sure to post pictures of the party after the big day!
  • I know Stella's could still change, but I have a child with each eye color!  Stella's are still denim blue, Myles's are green, and Jillian's are brown!  So interesting to me!
  • I found out that Ben has planned a Valentine's date night out! We have a sitter and an evening of dinner and maybe even dancing planned!

I'm Better Off Without...

  • Overbooked evenings.  Whatever happened to hanging out at home and playing a board game?  I'm thankful we always at least manage dinner together, even if it is between booked activities.
  • My phone has a magnet to the floor.  It always seems to want to leave my hand and shatter.  This time the guy put a special piece of glass over it to help.  Oh - and don't get on me about using a phone case.  That would be too easy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Big Kid Date Night

Last night we took our two big kids on a very spur the moment date.  We changed our plans for the evening, raced home to "dress up" and within an hour, we were dropping Stella off at Nana's house and heading out to dinner and a movie.  We called it a Big Kid Date.  Honestly, it is the first time since Stella was born that we took both big kids out to do something as a family, without our littlest member.

Kids-Pick dinner took us to Noodles and Company (of course).  As we sat waiting for them to bring us our food, both kids were excited and bubbly.  Gushing about the surprise date, the movie we were going to see...everything.  Then Myles said, "This really reminds me of before Stella was born when it was just the four of us."  My heart skipped a beat.  My mind was racing 1,000 miles a minute.  Afraid of the answer, I asked, "So, do you miss her, or do you like this time without her?"  I had decided that even if he said he liked the time without her, it was okay...  We all need time away sometimes.  His answer brought me nothing but pure joy.  He responded, "I miss her.  It seems really quiet.  I definitely miss her."  Jillian chimed in that she did too.  My momma heart jumped for joy, sighed relief, and smiled.  Of course, when we added a fifth member to our family, we considered the change and adjustment for Myles and Jillian.  I know they love Stella with all of their hearts.  Yet, to hear his actual answer, brought such an awesome confirmation to what we have known for a long time, sibling love is strong.

The rest of the evening went just as planned.  Of course, three quarters of the way through the movie we had a freak out and one wanting to leave the theater because it is "just so scary".  At that point, you just gotta finish it out...Of course you need to make it to the end to see that Paddington makes it out a-okay.  Oh - and don't call me out for being a spoiler, because if you didn't think that everything was going to be okay at the end of a Paddington Bear movie, then...I'm not even sure what to say about that...

We made it through to the end and rushed home to pick up our baby girl.  Back to the five of us.  I'm not exactly sure why, but after all of the kids were in bed for the night, I came here.  I came to read old posts.  I'll be honest, I rarely ever do.  I'm not exactly sure why I don't, but I don't.  Maybe last night my mom heart was drawn to read because of Myles's comment.  I have no idea.  I read, I laughed, I cried, and I remembered things that I had totally forgotten.  Those memories were preserved because I had written them down.  It reminded me why I love this little corner of the web for my little family.

I hope you were able to make some memories of your own this weekend.  It's not always the big life events that matter the most.  Those little things, on those random days, add up to a lot of memories to cherish.
They add up to a life.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Perspectives Of My 10-Month Old

I've had many conversations with people over the years about wishing we could know and understand what babies think about the world around them.  At 10-months old, Stella is full of life and love.  Our whole family can't get enough of her.  This list is a glimpse into what I think she would say to all of you if she were posting this post herself.

  • Hi!
  • Are you my BFF?  Have I never met you?  Doesn't matter.  I will greet you the same way with my squeaky little, "HI!!" that I greet any and everyone I see.  On the off chance that you don't hear me...I will continue to say hi, until you say hi right back.  I have high expectations in small talk.
  • There is nothing funnier than walking to Myles or Jillian.  They reach out their arms and step by step I get closer to tackling them.  As soon as I reach them they always fall back and hug me.  I love it.  
  • The coolest place in my house is this thing that my mom doesn't let me play with very much.  She calls it a lazy susan.  You know why I love it so much?  There are sprinkles in there!  All different colors!  When you shake them, they rattle.  When you shake them REALLY hard, sometimes you can even get the top off!  It rains sprinkles!!
  • When I put my head on the floor and my bootie in the air, my momma will give me a push and I can flip!  I LOVE it!!
  • There is this doll.  I love her.  I can't get enough of her.  One day my sis gave her to me and I haven't let her far out of my sight since.  When I get out of my crib, I try to give her to my mom before I get out, just to make sure she comes with me.  Santa gave me this really pretty doll with my name embroidered on her.  She even looks like me.  But, I like this other one better.  My mom calls her Dora.  Not sure who that is, but she is so cool.  I'm not sure my mom likes her as much as I do.  Something about TV characters?  She always tries to give me that doll from Santa, but I only have eyes for my special baby.
  • I never liked the food my mom put in this loud machine to make for me, but I like little cut up food.  You know, real food, like Myles and Jillian eat.  As long as it isn't dairy.  My mom freaks out about anything having dairy.  What is allergic?  I don't know, but it definitely gets my mom going!
  • My mom has put up these gate things.  I hate them.  They keep me from where I want to go and sometimes even who I want to see!
  • I love giving kisses and hugs.  People always smile and seem really happy when I do!  I open my mouth as wide as I can.  If I want to make them squeal, I'll just spit my tongue out too!
  • Do you like to climb?  Climbing is fun.  My mom tends to squeak when I climb.  Maybe I should do it more.
  • I like doggies.  Now that I know how to pet them, they like me too!  Pulling their ears and tail doesn't work. 
  • My brother and sister are HILARIOUS.  Everything they do is funny.  They make faces and noises that no one else makes!
  • Are there any babies around here?  I love to play with babies. 

I hope I get to play peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake with you soon.  Don't worry, I'll do all of the peeking if you boo and the patting if you sing!  It's pretty fun, you know!  Bye Bye!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Year of Sustainment

I'm not exactly sure how many, "New Year: New You" posts, articles, and status updates I have seen in this first week of the new year, but there have been quite a few.  Certainly the beginning of the year brings a fresh beginning, new journeys to travel, and sometimes even resolutions to fulfill.  This year for me, I have decided (at least what is within my control), is not necessarily a year of change for me, it is a year of sustainment.  I plan to settle in and enjoy all of the changes that have already taken place for me.  I love that the new year brings reflection on the year in review and looking forward to what is to become in 2015.

Last year was a year of change for me.  Big changes.  For our whole family.  The kind of change that takes a few weeks to come out of the haze and whirlwind around you to realize what is going on in the rest of the world.  Of course, in February, we welcomed our sweet Stella Rose into the world.  Immediately, she fit right into the puzzle like the missing piece that was needed to complete the picture on the puzzle box of our little family.  The "newborn haze" was amazingly very short this go-round.  Certainly not because I have the hang of this baby thing down, because frankly, we never really have the hang of that.  Each baby is so different, challenging, and special in their own way.  Rather, Stella just decided to make the transition super easy on us.  She must just love being in our little family so much, she wanted to fit right in.  :)  As usual, maternity leave whizzed by and before I knew it, it was time to return to work.  It is so interesting to think back at that corporate-minded woman and mother that I was just a few short months ago.  I have changed.  A lot.  I have grown.

In August, I made a huge leap and left my reliable and comfortable corporate role and went out on my own, consulting.  Full Bloom Market Development was born and my career as a consultant began.  Starting your own business changes everything around you and your daily life.  Not to mention, it changes you.  Being on your own without the umbrella and shelter of an employer brings a vulnerability that I have never experienced before.  Will anyone be interested in hiring me?  Will they like my work?  Can I hack it? Will I make enough to do what I need to do?  Am I prepared enough?  Am I good enough?  The only thing even remotely relatable in my life prior to taking my leap, was pressing publish on my very first post on this little blog.  And even was my husband that posted it to Facebook...without telling me first.  The most awesome thing comes out of that vulnerability.  Confidence.  Over those first few months, working with clients large and small, I began to see that I could answer the questions.  I could help make their businesses even more successful.  I could do this on my own.  I could even figure out how to handle my taxes.  I love that the vulnerability and confidence is a never ending cycle.  Everyday the vulnerability shows it's face in new challenges, new customers, and my own inner psyche.  Most days, the confidence can find some sort of rooting to pull me through it.

So, 2014 was amazing.  I loved it.  It was one of my favorite years.  I am so thankful.

2015...I want to continue to grow and embrace my vulnerability.  I want to show my children through example that you can control your own career if that is what you want to do.  I want to enjoy and love every minute of Myles, Jillian, and Stella that I can get.  I want to work in Jillian's classroom, playing sight word BINGO with her and all her little classmates.  I want to support Myles in all of his ambitious ideas and plans.  I want to treasure and savor all of Stella's last set.  Oh, and maybe show a little more patience...especially when we are in a hurry, leaving, or in the presence of bickering children.  Well, I'll try.  I can't promise that I will write here as often as I used to...time seems so short between three littles, their activities, and running a business...but I will try and post more often than I have been.  Thank you to the two readers that sent me messages requesting a post this week.  This one is for you!  Just a little inside scoop, I've been blogging all along, just under the pen name of different companies.


The photos...are completely unrelated to this post.  But, I love pictures...and these were a few of my favorites this holiday season.  Wishing you your best year yet. 

P.S.  I think this photo is my favorite of the season.  It captures one of my favorite moments.  A sleeping baby in my arms, sitting back watching my family have a blast playing Christmas Minute to Win It.  She slept through all of the fun.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Here's My Sign...

As adults we make decisions all day long.  Everyday decisions that shape our days.  What do I wear?  Should I run this morning, or hope I have motivation later tonight?  What should I pack in the kids' lunches?  Should they get the flu shot?  What baby food should I make for Stella?  Some decisions are small, and some decisions are huge.  Yet, both big and small, they all have an impact on our days.

I had been having an internal debate with myself for quite a while on one of those really colossal decisions.  You know those kind of internal arguments that you can see both sides of the decision and go over it in your head day after day…after day…still never coming to a resolution?  Yeah, one of those.  I was weighing the decision to leave my corporate job.  You see, I've always liked having…well…let's just call them "options".  Despite the fact that I had been at the same employer since the day I graduated college, over the years I had obtained my real estate license (you know, in case I ever wanted to turn my House Hunter's obsession into a career), and created a LLC for a marketing consulting business, should I ever want to leave my employer.  I had that dream of being a marketing consultant, working for multiple companies everyday, yet working for myself .  

Making a decision that size can weigh you down.  Thousands of questions (at least the way my brain works) are associated with that type of a decision.  So, I set up the company, created a website, and continued my internal debate.  For months.  I guess you could say I was waiting for a sign.  A sign from God that it was the right thing to do.  A sign that I would be successful on my own.  A sign that companies would be interested in what I have to offer.  A sign that I could continue to contribute to my family's finances, doing what I wanted to do.  And then….one day I got my sign.  I am so grateful for my so very supportive husband (and entrepreneur himself).  He helped me READ my sign.  It was staring me in the face and it was Ben who figuratively hit me over the head with it.  It was my time to jump.  And so…after 12 years...I left.  I left my reliable, comfortable, corporate career.  I haven't looked back since.

It's been a month.  Exactly a month ago was my last day in Corporate America.  Since then, it has been a whirlwind of freedom and success.  I love it.  Just like God sent me the sign to leave, he has blessed me with dozens of gifts.  Beautiful little packages that present themselves in amazing ways.  Opportunities to work in different companies in different ways…so challenging and fulfilling at the same time.  Clients that came and continue to come forward, interested in my work.  And frankly, more work that I could have ever imagine I would be able to obtain in just a month.  One of my favorite gifts...the opportunity to work an occasional school lunch without a scheduling nightmare, or take the kids to the beach right after school, or simply play with Stella on the floor.  Oh, and that gift that is extra fun?  The work doesn't feel so much like work when it is your own.

It's so odd to me…yet so fun...that this blog started as a blog about balancing the scales between a corporate career and young children.  Navigating my way…finding my balance (if there really is such a thing).  Now, I find myself in a whole new world.  A world of working for myself.  Building a business.  Sustaining and caring for my family.  All in a day's work.  I am a mother…a professional…a wife…a friend...and a caregiver.  Every day, shoot…every hour, those roles are shuffled and mixed.  My work may have completely changed, but my roles have not.  They are the roles I am meant to fulfill.

If you are interested in more information about my new consulting business, you can check out my website here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday's Love and I'm Better Off Without Lists...

Love List…

  • Baby laughs.  Not just the little giggles, but those belly laughs that come from deep within, rooted in pure joy.  Those baby belly laughs that cause the hiccups.

  • My pride as I watch my girl dance in her dance recital.  To my pure shock and amazement, she had her own little twirl solo in her ballet number.  I had no idea.  With a sleeping Stella in my arms, I found myself hitting Ben saying, "Do you SEE this!?!?  Is that planned?  Did they all just forget to do that twirl except Jillian?!?"  Ben quickly brought me back to reality.  "Yes, Nik, it looked quite planned."  Ha!  I asked Jillian why she kept such a big little secret from us.  "Jillian, why didn't you tell us you had a solo?"  "What's a solo mom?"  She said she had told me.  She repeated what she had said and I remember the conversation….guess I just didn't get it. Sweet girl.
  • Watching the AAA Cardinals.  I love every minute of it.  Watching Ben coach, the boys make great plays and get better with every passing game, getting to know all of the kids on the team as I work in the dugout, and watching Myles have the time of his life.  It's awesome.  All of it.
  • Family dinners out with great friends.  Fun for all and priceless memories.
  • Summer is finally here!!  Thank goodness.  You will never hear me say it is too hot.  I love the heat and I love spending time outside!
  • Sitting with Stella by the water under an umbrella watching Myles and Jillian play with their friends in the sand and water.  Pure Heaven.  I plan to do it a lot more often this summer.
  • Evenings with Ben sitting on our deck enjoying a bonfire.
  • Shark Tank Tuesday.  Perfect for background TV while I write this blog post.
  • School is out on Friday!  Soon, Myles will be able to join us girls in our fun!
  • Perennials blooming.  No work and beautiful.  Perfect.
  • A sweetie baby.  I have never met a baby as easy going as my girl.  She continues to amaze me everyday with her chilled back nature.  I can already tell, her brother and sister are her idols.  From waving and movements to vocal inflection, she is already trying to copy every move they make.
I'm Better Off Without List…
  • The noise of my Mommy brain running a constant stream of thoughts that seems to never shut off…."What does Myles need to take to school tomorrow?  What day is Stella's doctor's appointment?  I wonder what time we will play in the championship baseball tournament this week…  Will Jillian still love dance if she moves up an age group that doesn't have all of her girlfriends?  I need to do baby laundry.  I need to get the monthly reports completed for the month.  I wonder if I have enough wipes.  I need to buy an end of the year teacher gift.  I wonder if I have prepared enough for the meeting I'm running at work tomorrow… I wish I could work in the classroom this week…  Father's Day is this week.  Don't. Forget.  The script runs through my head faster than I can speak it.  Sometimes I wish I could just make it hush.  Thank goodness for baby laughs and the silly kids that cause them.  It always quiets the script.  At least for a few minutes.
  • My next home remodel project that we will likely begin this weekend.  It will not help my Mommy brain script at all.  The room will look great though!