A Leap of Faith – How I Met my Husband

In Alaska in 2011

I meant to share the story of how my husband and I met when I posted about our five year wedding anniversary…but I forgot.  Whoops.  It was a busy couple of weeks.

I don’t want to wait until next year though, so here goes!

Are you a spontaneous person?  I am not.  At all.  Sometimes I wish I were, but I’m definitely more of a type-A, often overly rigid, plans everything type of person.  I sound so fun, right?

Because of this, the times I’ve taken a leap of faith and followed my gut, rather than analyzing everything and doing what I “should” do, really stand out to me.  There have been three: moving to DC for college without ever visiting, quitting my career in business and becoming a teacher, and dating my husband.

In South Africa on our honeymoon in 2012

I met my husband when I was a freshman at Georgetown University.  I was having a great year.  I had met a wonderful group of friends, and was really enjoying experiencing a different part of the country.

I had dated some, but nothing too serious, and that was fine.  I was a freshman.

My best friend in college (still my best friend today!) is from Wisconsin.  Some of her friends from high school drove out to visit her for spring break.

My now husband, being the complete opposite of me, had no plans, did not even realize it was spring break, and so jumped in the car and came with them.  One of the many reasons I’m glad our personalities are so different 🙂

I met him at the dining hall – so romantic, I know.  I liked him right away.  I am pretty shy, but we wound up talking a lot that weekend.  We were always hanging out in a big group, but the two of us always wound up having great conversations.  One way that we are alike is that we are both major introverts.  This led to some deep conversations about what we wanted to be “when we grew up” and all the rest.  Plus, he was pretty cute 😉

He was super down to earth, which was so refreshing (Have you been to Georgetown?  It is beautiful, but down to earth, it is not….)

The weekend ended and I felt sad when he left, but he was basically a stranger.  It was just sad as in, I wished I had gotten to know him more.

We started talking over instant messenger and texting and eventually talking on the phone and became great friends that summer.

I wanted to go visit him that summer, but my Dad said no…shocking, I had only met the guy once and he lived across the country.  I would say no too.

School started and we still talked all of the time.  I saved my babysitting money and flew out to see him.  All of my guy friends had serious concerns about this and I don’t blame them!  It was an illogical thing to do.  My best friend did fly out with me, but she was going to Wisconsin for a family thing and we weren’t mostly together.  Also, his roommate was one of her best friends, so we at least knew he wasn’t a psycho!

Still, this was a theoretically stupid thing to do.  Yet, it was the best decision of my life.

At Milwaukee Brewing Company in 2013

We dated long distance for a little over two years and then he moved to DC.  We’ve been together ever since and he is my best friend and now such an amazing Dad.

In Big Bend National Park in 2014

I’m so glad that I didn’t let my often overly cautious mind get in the way of my happiness.  I’m so glad that I didnt’ listen to anyone saying it was a dumb thing to do or that long distance never works.  I’m so glad I listened to my heart, took a leap of faith, and made space to fall in love.

Here’s to taking risks and finding happiness!

Are you spontaneous?

Have you ever taken a big risk that paid off?

How did you meet your significant other if you have one?

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Happy Birthday to….the blog!

I don’t normally post on Saturdays, but I was just thinking, “Hey, I bet it’s been almost a year since I started posting.”  So I checked.  And it’s been exactly a year today!  Who knew?  Some part of my brain apparently.

I couldn’t let the day pass without popping in to say THANK YOU to everyone who reads.  This has been such a wonderful creative outlet for me and such a great way to connect with people, when I spend many hours at home with just me and the little guy.

Here are the five most read posts from the year:

  1. Five Parenting Lessons I Learned as a Teacher This has been by far my most read post, by a factor of…45!  I attribute this to the fact that the wonderful Janet Lansbury shared it on her Facebook page, so thank you very much Janet!  If you are not familiar with her work, you should definitely check out her website.
  2. Baby Led Weaning – High Chair versus Weaning Chair
  3. The Beginning – my very first post.
  4. Birth Reflections – Why I’m Glad I got an Epidural
  5. Thoughts on a Floor Bed (here is the update for how the floor bed worked, or didn’t work, for us as James got older)

And these posts did not make the top five, but they are two of my favorites: How I Left the Corporate World for Montessori Part I and Part II.

It has been an amazing year and I’m so happy to have so much of it documented to look back on.

Here’s to another year, thanks for reading!

– Christina

 

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Friday Favorites

Hello and happy friday!

It has been a particularly good week over here, for no specific reason, just happy ordinary days.

Here are a few things that have made me happy lately:

A Little Garden

After adding it to my goals many months ago, I finally took the first step to gardening!  I was siting outside with James on Sunday morning, looking around and wishing our backyard were nicer.  He was about to nap and I decided it had been long enough, we’d lived here for over a year, it was time to do something about it.  I spent both of his nap times clearing space for a flower bed, went and bought dirt, and planted some flowers during his nap the next day.  I still need to get some more flowers, but it already makes me so happy every time I go outside!  Next, I’d love to start an herb or vegetable garden.

It’s so easy to feel like I get nothing done, and I know that just comes with this stage in life, but it felt great to get something tangible done that I can actually see (and that won’t be undone as soon as James crawls by….)

This Delicious Kale Salad

I first had this salad at Thanksgiving a few years ago and have been obsessed with it ever since.  I get the pre-shredded brussels sprouts and pre-torn kale from Trader Joe’s, which makes it really easy.  I also like to add some dried cranberries or cherries and hemp seeds.  It’s so good and it makes a ton so I’ve loved eating it for lunch this week.

“Cooler” Weather

Okay, it doesn’t exactly feel like Fall here in Austin (we don’t really have much of a Fall), but the highs have been in the high 80’s or low 90’s this week and it feels comparatively amazing.  It’s pretty dry here too, so the mornings actually feel cool.  I have been loving all of the outside time and extra long walks!

Trader Joe’s Nitrogen Infused Coffee

I just started buying this last week and I love it a little too much.  These little cold brews are infused with nitrogen, which makes the coffee super foamy when you pour it into a cup.  It’s delicious and looks so pretty.  The only downside is that they’re kind of hard to open (I couldn’t open my last one this morning and had to make normal coffee and almost lost it…this probably says more about me than the coffee…Edited to add: my husband easily opened it with a bottle opener…smart man.)

Story Time!

Story time started back up at the library this week (they take August off).  Our library has the best children’s librarian.  She knows all of the babies’ names, and there are a LOT of babies who come.  It’s the only library story time in Austin for just 0-12 months and I’m so grateful for it.  James will only be able to go for a few more weeks and I will really miss it!

Batch Cooking / Freezing Food for James

I’ve never really been into freezer cooking – well, that’s not really accurate, I’ve just never really thought about it or figured it out.  Lately though I’ve been trying to cook a big batch of something for James once or twice a week and freeze most of it.  This has been super helpful when I make his lunch, as we’re often just getting home from a morning activity at lunch time.  Lately I’ve made banana mini muffins, zucchini fritters and greek yogurt pancakes.  I want to make pumpkin pancakes, but haven’t seen pumpkin yet.

Extra Time

Have you ever wished for an extra hour in the day?  Well, I got one!

I’ve been feeling a little stressed about getting things done (or, not getting things done, I suppose).  My AWESOME husband agreed to play with the little guy for an hour before work a couple of times a week so that I can have a little extra time.   It has been amazing.  I am way more of a morning person than he is, so I always wind up taking care of James in the early morning because I’m either already awake or wake up at the first peep he makes.  My husband can sleep through anything.

This week, I went for a run..by myself…with no stroller.  I don’t actually mind running with the stroller, but we don’t usually get out until later if I do that and it felt amazing to be out running before the heat of the day.  Plus, when I run with James, there’s the whole issue or showering when I get back….  I also had a chance to make a big batch of pancakes one morning, so the freezer is stocked again with easy breakfasts.

This Guy….

Always, every week, but especially right now as I try to savor every day that he’s still a baby.  I’ve been catching little glimpses of the little toddler lurking inside (like him going over to something he’s not supposed to touch and grinning at me…) and I love toddlers, but I just want him to be a baby a little bit longer!

What was the best part of your week?

Do you have any good freezer recipes?

Do you have any fun plans this weekend?

At what age do babies stop being babies?

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3 Mantras I Use Daily

Do you use mantras?  I used to use them while running long distances and found them really helpful.  (I no longer remember what running mantra I used – probably time to come up with a new one as I start training for a half marathon again, EEK.)

Since becoming a parent, I’ve found myself turning to them again because, yes, parenting can be pretty hard sometimes.  Here are three mantras I use regularly that help me keep my cool and keep things in perspective:

I have All the Time I Need

This is the one I use the most.  I tend to race around doing things quickly and sometimes I realize I am unnecessarily frantic.  I find myself cleaning the kitchen at breakneck speed after dinner when there is really no reason to rush.  I find myself stressed about getting stuck in traffic when we don’t need to get somewhere by any particular time.  I need to remind myself to slow down because sometimes it’s better to do something well (and dare I say, enjoy doing it) than to do it quickly.  I often say this aloud and it instantly helps me calm down.

The Days are Long, but the Years are Short

I believe this is a common phrase, but I got it from Gretchen Rubin, I believe from her book the Happiness Project.  I heard it related to parenting, but I think it could really be used for any stressful, but enjoyable job.  Honestly, lately our days have mostly been really enjoyable, but there have definitely been times over the past year when the day seemed to stretch on endlessly (mainly when James wasn’t napping well).  This little phrase helps me remember what countless people have told me since I first got pregnant – it goes by so, so fast, don’t wish it away, not even for a moment.

Some Day He’ll be a Teenager

This is similar to the one above.  When James wakes up at 5 AM and wants me, I remind myself that someday he’ll be a teenager sleeping until noon and I’ll wish he’d wake up and want to hang out with me.  When he’s clingy, I remind myself that someday he probably won’t want anything to do with me (tear).  When I wish we could go out at night, I remind myself that someday he’ll be the one going out at night and we’ll be at home wishing he were here with us, where we can peek in at him and know that he’s okay.  This is nothing against teenagers, I think they get a bad wrap, but it reminds me that while yes, it’s hard to have someone need you so much, some day he won’t feel like he needs me at all and that will be even harder.

These three phrases help me slow down and appreciate even the hard days.

Do you have a favorite mantra?

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What I Would Buy a Pregnant Friend: First Year Baby Favorites

It is inevitable, babies come with a lot of stuff.

Well, actually they come with nothing, and you have to buy a lot of stuff.

I do, however, really think the baby product industry blows this out of proportion.  When you’re a first time mom, you don’t really know what baby will need and you’re dealing with all of the nesting urges, so it is easy to get carried away by the mile long lists of “necessities”.

Looking back on this first year, there are thankfully only a handful of products we got that we really didn’t use, but there are also definitely a few that stand out to me.  These are the ones I would rush out and buy for my best friend if she got pregnant.

Ergobaby 360 Carrier: James does not spend a ton of time in here, but this carrier has made a huge difference in our daily lives by making errands easy.  He hated our old carrier (also Ergo, but it didn’t allow him to face forward) and I was always stressed when putting him in there to grocery shop, etc.  He still doesn’t want to be in here for an extended period of time, but he’ll easily stay content people watching while I run errands and has been okay in here for a couple of longer hikes as well.  It is also pretty comfortable for me!

Board Books: Black and White, Global Babies, Smile!, Hello, Bugs! We have so many board books, but these four were the first ones James fell in love with.  He still loves all of them today, except for Black and White, which he’s pretty much outgrown.  If I had to pick one favorite, it would probably be Global Babies, but all four of these are really great.

Lots of Links Toy: This is such a simple, basic toy, but I love it because it really stands the test of time.  When James was little bitty, I could string several rings together and hang them for him to look at, and later try to grasp.  Now that he’s older, he has a jar of them on his shelf and he loves removing them from the jar and putting them back in.  He seriously concentrates on this for the longest time, it is one of his favorite things right now.  I imagine when he’s even older, he might enjoy stringing them together or making patterns.  I love toys that last and keep interest for more than a month or two and these definitely do!

Rainbow Sound Blocks: These also work for many different ages.  Right now, James loves shaking them and holding the different shapes in his hand.  I imagine when he’s older, he may enjoy building with them or looking through the colored panels in the light.  These are beautiful on his shelf as well.

Your Self-Confident Baby: I’ve written about it before, but I love this parenting book.  It is the first RIE book I’ve read and I think RIE has a lot in common with Montessori.  To me, it seems like some of the main differences relate to the specifics of the environment, but both philosophies are definitely based on respect for the child and his autonomy.  I love this book because it is super approachable and easy and fun to read too.

Diapers! One of my husband’s best friends gave us SO MANY diapers that his daughter had outgrown.  This was so, so helpful, as we really didn’t have to think about buying diapers at all for months.  We’ve tried several brands and never had a problem with any of them, but it would be nice to give a friend a small package of several different kinds so she could try them out and see what they prefer.

Food Delivery Gift Card:  I had a coworker expecting his first child, but they already had everything they needed.  Our boss collected money to give him a gift card for Postmates for food delivery in the early months and I thought this was so thoughtful and creative!  There were definitely many nights when we had no time or energy to think about dinner in the first month or two and I think this would be so helpful.  Homemade dinners are also amazing of course, but having this as a fall back when something comes up would be so great.

Resource List: I think it would be so helpful to give a new or expecting parent a laminated list of resources they might need in the first few months.  This could include a lactation consultant, favorite local story times, closest emergency room. best place nearby to buy diapers, etc.

These last two cost more than I’d spend for a baby gift, but have made a HUGE difference in our first year and are two of my very favorites that I would definitely recommend to a friend:

BOB 2016 Revolution FLEX Stroller: I love this stroller so much and use it almost every day.  We’ve never needed to get a second stroller, as this works great for everything.  It is a little larger, so I could see it being less than ideal for running errands, but as I mentioned, we use the carrier for that anyway.  I love both walking and running with the BOB and it is super easy to push over grass or bumpy trails.

Lotus Travel Crib: I mentioned this when we first got it, but this bed is awesome!  We bought is when we decided to take a break from the floor bed and it made an almost immediate difference in all of our happiness.  This may sound dramatic, but it is not an exaggeration as James slept so much better in here right away.  I love that it is on the floor instead of raised and that it unzips so that baby can go in and out by himself when its open.  We use this as James’s every day bed, but I also love that it travels!  It was so nice on our recent vacation to be able to take his bed with us instead of worrying about how he would sleep in something new while already off schedule.  Thanks again to my friend Laura who told me about this, it has been a life saver!

These are some of the main products that we’ve loved this year and are largely still using today.  The list is relatively short because every baby is so different, I think it’s definitely worth waiting until baby is born to buy a lot of things. For example, we never needed a swing or bouncer or changing table but I know they are a big help for some famlies.  These are a few items though that I would feel confident gifting or recommending to a friend.

*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you.  I only include items I have and love.  Thanks for your support!

Do you have any favorite baby products?

What are some must have toddler products? 

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James at 11 Months

I’m a little late with this update and cannot believe James turns one THIS month.  I’m honestly trying not to think about it too much and to just enjoy the month, as I tend to get overly sentimental.  Still, things are changing rapidly as James takes his first steps and I look at going back to work part-time.  It definitely feels like this very special year is coming to a close in a very real way.

Okay, before I get too sappy, on to the update!

Eating

James eats all the things.  He normally eats what we’re eating for dinner now, which makes things so much easier.  We offered him a few bites of ice cream on vacation and he was fine with it, but made it clear he’d rather eat his peas.  Who is this kid?

He did however love the homemade pizza we made last week, and really loves mashed potatoes.  He also continues to love yogurt, fruit, and anything someone else is eating.  He literally begged on his knees for a bite of a granola bar my sister was eating when she was here…five minutes after finishing a big breakfast.

My favorite development with his eating has been his desire to share.  He holds out tiny bites of food to me and, even though his hand is covered in unidentifiable food residue, I think it is the sweetest thing.  Sometimes if it is a bite of something really good though, he takes it back at the last second haha.

Sleep

I don’t want to jinx anything, but sleep has been so good!  Before our vacation, he had been frequently waking up at 5:30 or so for the day.  For some reason, ever since we got back two weeks ago, he’s often been sleeping until 7 or later.  Apparently he decided to stay on East Coast time and I am not complaining.  (Right now it’s 7:30 and he’s still sleeping…I literally never thought that would happen.)

I’ve also woken up a couple of mornings and all was quiet, but when I looked at the monitor he was silently walking the perimeter of his bed.  Works for me little man!

The only negative with sleep is that he has hit the clingy stage and sometimes cries when it’s time to go to bed now.  It generally doesn’t go on too long though, I just hate to hear him crying!

Physical Development

The biggest change has been James has started taking his first steps!  This happened last week, so just after he turned 11 months.  I would not say he’s walking, but he is taking a few steps at a time and is very close.  Right now, it is more of a mad dash between two things so that he can make it there before gravity catches up.

He is also standing for long periods of time – he likes to stand while we read books these days.  And a smaller, but one of my favorite physical developments – he is waving!  Something about this is just way too cute for me to handle.  He stood at the door waving for the longest time when my sister and her fiance left last week.  It melts my heart.

He has also started climbing things, which is interesting.  I was sweeping the floor after lunch the other day and looked over to see him sitting on the couch…holding the remote control no less.

Seeing him climb the furniture with no regard for safety is a little scary, but still fun to watch him exploring the world in a new way.

Personality

He is the sweetest.  Clearly I’m not biased at all, not even a little bit 🙂

He has become more clingy this month, but I honestly don’t mind.  He is normally so independent and on the go, I will soak up every long hug and slobbery baby kiss he gives me during this stage and will hold him in my lap all day long if he wants.  I of course still encourage him to be independent, but I am loving this time when he wants his Mama.

He also has a serious love of games…or what passes for a game at this age.  He of course loves peekaboo and also loves any other silly little game we come up with around here.  He gives the best belly laughs.

He has become fascinated with taking things in and out of containers.

He loves the splash pad, the beach, exploring, and READING.  He will seriously sit and listen to books for the longest time, which is funny because he is otherwise never still.  I’m very excited about this as I love to read and really look forward to reading him some of my childhood favorites as he grows.

I’m going to try not to become overly sentimental this  month as his birthday approaches.  I want to look back and reflect and remember this first year, but I also don’t want to waste too much time thinking about the past.  I want to truly be present and enjoy each day with the little buddy as he continues to change and grow.

Does anyone have a birthday this month?  (Apparently, it’s the most common birthday month in the US.)

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Five Years Together

5 years of marriage, 4 homes, 3 new jobs, 2 cross-country moves, and 1 baby later….

As I mentioned briefly last week, my husband and I just celebrated our five year wedding anniversary.  I cannot believe it has been five years and so much has changed.

I have the best memories from our wedding, obviously because I got to marry my best friend, but also because our families and friends are spread out across the country and it was so special to have all of the people we love together.

Both my sister and brother are engaged right now and I cannot wait to celebrate with them soon!

I spent some time looking through our wedding pictures and wanted to share a few of my favorites.  All were taken by Jennifer McCarty, whom we absolutely loved.

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September Goals

As one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Ruben, says, “September is the other January.”

While it still feels like summer here in Texas, something about seeing school buses on the roads and pumpkin recipes popping up online makes it feel like a good time for new goals.

This month I’m hoping to:

  1. Set an alarm clock – For many, many months, I was up by five or so, no alarm clock needed.  James would wake up to eat between 4-5 and go back to sleep and I would get up for the day.  This was pretty exhausting, but I also really enjoyed the time to myself at the start of the day.  Now that he’s sleeping later, I’ve been sleeping later too.  It felt so great to catch up on sleep, but I feel like I’m falling behind on everything else (including blogging!)  I plan to set an alarm for 5:30 Monday through Thursday.  I’m a total morning person and super unproductive in the evenings, so I will get more done this way than by trying to get things done at night.
  2. Run twice a week – I think I mentioned I signed up to run a half marathon with my little brother.  It’s not until February, so I don’t need to start an actual training plan for a while, but I would like to gradually build up to running slightly longer distances.  Because of my foot injury, I don’t want to push it and risk injury, but hope to run twice a week.  I’ll likely do one stroller run with James and one longer run by myself on the weekend.
  3. Finish Jame’s Baby Book I’ve been making James’s baby book on Shutterfly throughout the year.  I’m super uncrafty so this has been a much better option for me than an actual scrapbook.  I update it every month, but I want to go through and edit it so that it’s ready to order.  I’ve included about a million pictures so it’s going to be pretty expensive, but Shutterfly often has crazy sales.  I want to have it ready so that I can purchase it when there’s a 50-60% off sale.
  4. Plan Backyard Updates I’ve been enjoying playing in the backyard with James SO much lately.  Most of our birthday presents for him are backyard-focused.  However, I would like to make some changes to make our outside time even more enjoyable.  Both houses we rented in Maine had beautiful yards with nice, soft grass.  I don’t know what is up with our grass, but our yard feels very scratchy.  I have no clue about anything yard related, so I want to take some time to research what would be involved with improving our yard / getting a different type of grass planted.

And that is all!  I know it’s going to be a busy month with James’s birthday and visits from family so I want to keep it simple.

What are your goals for the month?

Does it feel like Fall yet where you live?

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Such a Strange Week

This last week was a weird one.  I grew up in Houston and my family still lives there and it has been strange hearing about and seeing pictures of the insane flooding and damage.

It often floods in Houston and it is not unusual to hear over the top weather predictions on the news.  They are usually much exaggerated or the flooding winds up happening elsewhere, so this took me by surprise.

I am so, so thankful that family and their houses are totally fine.  We were so lucky.  My heart goes out to all of those who were less fortunate and honestly, my stomach drops when I think about the next time I drive to Houston and seeing all of the damage in person.

This article outlines some ways to help.  A silver lining has definitely been seeing how the community has come together to help the people most impacted by the hurricane.

On the plus side, my sister and fiance stayed with all week and it was so much fun to have them here.  They are getting married in December and looking forward to having their own little ones, so it was really fun to see them interact with baby James.  We had a great time, though it felt a little weird enjoying the beautiful spring-like weather when we knew it was a result of such devastating circumstances.

They also babysat for us one night so we could go out and celebrate our FIVE year wedding anniversary, which is so hard for me to believe.  I want to share some of our wedding pictures, but I have no idea where on my computer they are, so I have to wait until my IT guy (i.e., my husband) can help me find them 🙂

This is a bit of a random, rambling post, but I wanted to stop in and say hi before hopefully resuming more regular posting next week.

I hope you have a wonderful, safe weekend and spend some time hugging your family and enjoying all of the beautiful things in life that it’s so easy to forget to be grateful for.

P.S. If you’re looking for something more substantive to read, please stop by and read my recent article on Motherly!

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