Monday, December 29, 2014

Why I Stopped Saying "I'm Busy"

It's become almost an automatic response to the question "how are you?"

"I'm busy!"

"We are just so busy!"
"It's just a busy time of year!"

I don't question the validity of those statements for a second. And I wholeheartedly agree 100%.

But it's getting on my nerves.

Why? Well, for starters it's not unique to any one person. It's become so much of a norm in our lives that it almost doesn't deserve mention. It goes without saying.

And I think people use it as an "out." It's become an excuse for not returning a phone call, responding to an e-mail, taking on an extra project or attending an event. Yes, I've had my fair share of moments where I have forgotten one (or all) of the above items because I've been busy. But using as a preemptive strike? Not cool.

What's at the root of busy schedules? Is it because we are overworked parents? Or because we are caring for a sick loved one? Do we have too much on our plates between family, work and volunteer activities? If yes....then let's say so! Let's start being honest, truly honest, with each other in our exchanges. Let's tell each other flat out, "I'm interested but I cannot make that a top priority right now but I can get it to you in the next two weeks." Or "No, I'm sorry. I cannot committee to one more thing but here's what I can do." Or "I'm really struggling right now with (fill in the blank). I know this is important to you and I will do the best I can do to meet your expectations."

Can we all just agree, in 2015, to acknowledge we are all busy without having to actually say it? Or if we must say it, to not use the phrase so flippantly? I'm truly looking for a honest answer to the question "how are you?"; it's why I asked in the first place.

Can we start being a little bit more genuine (and gentle) with each other in this new year? I think we'll find we become a little less "busy" when we take moments to better understand and connect with each other. Our "busyness" is relative and temporary, as is everything else in life. Let's not waste time on empty statements. Let's make our daily exchanges more meaningful.  I think in doing so we will gain more that we ever imagined.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Adventures with Emily

Everything is an adventure with a toddler. I have come to realize this. Even the most mundane of activities (say, brushing one's teeth) will probably include a myriad of emotions, will take twice as long as you might think it should to complete, and will leave you tired, frazzled and asking yourself "WHY must we go through this?!" 

Special activities (say, picking out a Christmas tree or going to see Santa) are the above scenario times...say 100. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Times 99.

Case in point: deciding to take a toddler to pick out a real, live Christmas tree. "Oh, it will be fun!" you think. "Just like my childhood! And we will get cute pictures of her dressed up around all the trees and can use them for a Christmas card!"

And let's say you do manage to get her all dressed up and she only has one tantrum while tree shopping (SWEET!). But all your pictures end up as one of two versions.


 Or this....

Ok, clearly we are done here. Let's just pick the last tree we see and call it a day.

Since we clearly didn't learn the first time, we decided our next adventure should be to make the obligatory trip to the mall to see Santa.  And I was prepared with a plan. We were going to go after work on a Wednesday to avoid the long lines. And I brought a change of clothes with me so she wouldn't have to wear her pretty dress up clothes all day long.  We made it through the afternoon traffic to the mall, successfully changed clothes (in the car, but whatever) and got in a relatively short line to see Santa.

All good, right? Um, not so much. Apparently "Santa's helpers" that work during the week are...shall we say....less efficient than the weekend crew. With no more than 20 families in front of us we waited almost one hour. One hour, people! And since we came straight from work, I was still in heels. Standing. For one hour. Holding (for most of the time) a 30 lb toddler. Why oh why??!?!

We finally made it up to Santa...after lots of rolling around on the floor, eating graham crackers and chatting up other toddlers in line around us (who were amazingly well behaved AND strapped in their strollers).  Now, I knew this Santa thing was probably not gonna go down as planned. I figured (because she she FREAKED. OUT. last year) she would not be crazy about him this year. But ever the optimist, I hoped it would be different because had been talking about him and she was another year older.

She shyly walked up and said "hi". He asked her what she wanted to for Christmas and she said "toys." (Girl of few words) We asked if she wanted to sit and talk with Santa she said "no" but did go in for a .5 second hug. He handed her a Rudolph book, she blew him a kiss and that was all she wrote.

One hour. For that.

I almost burst into tear. Ridiculous. But we waited all that time and didn't get a single picture. (Randy's response, by the way, was "well, at least she saved us $30." And yes, it's truly not worth traumatizing my child for a $30 photo package of memories.)

I looked down and Emily and she was happily skipping along in her Christmas outfit, looking at her new book and excitedly talking about her meeting with Santa. She was so excited, this was the best picture of her:

I asked her what she wanted to do next and all she wanted was to ride the mall carousel and "da bus":

There's the look of joy I was hoping for! Pure happiness right there. And all I could think was, "ya know. Do your thing, sister." She was happy, I was happy. So what if we didn't do exactly what we hoped we would be able to do. That's part of life and that is especially part of life as a parent. And in the end, we got an amazing Christmas tree, a fun family outing at the mall and a few random, funny Christmas memories.Which is a win as far as I'm concerned!

Wishing you and yours the happiest (and maybe even funniest) of holiday memories!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Crafts for Toddlers (Our Version)

It's December which means Christmas is right around the corner! Hip hip HOORAY! I love this time of year. (And yes, I know I say that about every time of the year. But it's TRUE!)

We spent last weekend putting up Christmas decorations and had a blast. Emily loved putting ornaments on the tree but it's becoming increasingly difficult to convince her to leave them on the tree. And I doubt she will be interested in taking them off when New Years rolls around and it's time to clean up.

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and a friend posted a link to two blog posts 20 Fun Toddler Christmas Activities and 20 Cute Christmas Crafts for Toddlers. Both were exactly what appeals to me as a parent: a great collection of arts and crafts activities to engage little ones in fun and learning.  There were a few on the lists I wasn't sure about (like, is it safe for children to play with Epsom salt?) and a few that looked easy and fun (the wall Christmas tree and holiday hand wreath).

Last night, I decided I would try out the holiday hand wreath. Because, ya know, what time better to do an arts and crafts activity than after a long day at work and day care?! But we had finished an early dinner (thanks to a wonderful husband who started cooking as soon as he got home) and it wasn't quite bed time.

You know those "nailed it" Pinterest memes? The ones with the cute Pinterest pics of bunny shaped biscuits beside a pic of someones best attempt that look more like possessed demons? Yep, that'd be me. 

Bless sweet Laura from Lalymom for guiding moms like me through activities like this. Because as much as I want to be that mom, I just think it's beyond some of us. Her suggestions were awesome but we successfully missed the mark on all of them.

Since I could not locate my phone to snap pictures of the tornado that was this craft activity, allow me to replay my internal-that-is-almost-always-external dialogue as I walked Emily through what should have been the simplest of steps:

"Ok, it looks like we need a paper plate. Do we have one of those? I probably should have thought of this before we started. Oh yeah! In the china cabinet!" (And yes, I get the irony here.)

"Dang! A paper plate is really hard to cut!"

"Ok, there we go. Emily, please don't touch the scissors."

"Emily, do not touch the pen. That's Mommy's. Here, hold the paper."

"Ok, Emily let's do your hand prints! Wait wait....come back! We are making a surprise present for Daddy!"
(I have learned that the words "surprise", "daddy" and "present" are magic words that get Emily to comply with just about any request. If you are able to use all three in a sentence, jackpot.)

"We don't have a glue stick. I guess a glue bottle will work? I dunno. I really should have planned ahead."

"Laura says: 'remember to allow the child to do the steps they can do.' Hm, what steps are those exactly? I will not be overbearing and try and 'fix' Emily's work. This is her's to make."

After managing to cut out red and green hands, we attempted to put them on the plate. "Emily, let's put your hand here. Ok, Mommy is going to hold the glue...."  ("WAAAAAAHHHH" from Emily) "Ok, Mommy will hold the glue with you."

Emily put exactly 5 hands on the plate and decided she was done and ran off the rest of the paper hands.

I peaked her curiosity and she came back to the table when I finally found some gift wrap ribbon (again, plan head MEGAN!). She proceeded to unravel the entire roll as I was attempting to paste the rest of the hands on the plate. (Well, I tried to let her do it by myself. I really did!)


"Ok, Emily! Almost done. Help Mommy put the ribbon here and here! Just a little piece and you can have the rest, I promise!!"

After tapping ribbon on the back to hang the wreath (yes, went off script but who is honestly surprised at this point), Emily proudly ran over to Randy and said "Daddy! I made you pwesant!"

There it is. The moment I was hoping for.

Randy oohed and ahhed for the appropriate amount of time. We put the wreath in a safe place for "Daddy to take to work tomorrow" (and yes, it is still sitting there this morning).  Randy returned to his tv show and Emily started her next project: dumping toys out of her toy basket.

I turned around to a table covered with glue, construction paper and a tangled mess of ribbon on the floor.

The last paragraph of Laura's post popped into my head: "Ta-da! Now you have a lovely wreath to hang or give as a gift! And bonus- your kids had lots of great fine motor skills practice! That’s how WE do classic kids crafts at our house! How do you do Christmas crafts? Fancy? Open-ended? Messy?"

Messy, Laura, always messy. But entertainingly so. That's how we do pretty much everything. And I fully accept that I am that mom.

Happy holiday crafting, friends!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Unspoken Sadness

November is National Adoption Month! Which means there are thousands and thousands of touching stories like Teach Your Children About Adoption Before Releasing Them on the Playground and awesome memes like this one:

My social media feed is full of wonderful stories and pictures of families that have come together through adoption. And all during the same month as Thanksgiving. Indeed, we have much to be thankful for. 

And yet, in the midst of this month of celebration, there are moments that appear without warning and hit me like a ton of bricks. As I'm scrolling through my social media, I see birth announcement after birth announcement. Fuzzy black and white sonogram pictures.  Smiling women with growing pregnant bellies.  Proud toddlers cuddling newborn siblings. And tears come to my eyes.

Randy and I chose adoption to create our family. Pregnancy was a road we deliberately chose not to travel. We also agreed that we would only adopt one child. And I honestly never gave it all much thought over the last 5+ years.... until now. Over those years, I've attended countless baby showers and bought baby gifts for dear friends and special co-workers without incident. I've lamented (to myself and out loud) about how difficult parenting one child is and how I cannot. even. fathom. doing it all over again! So why now? Maybe it's because I'm the same age as so many of the mamas-to-be? Maybe it's because some of them started down the adoption road but ultimately were able to get pregnant? Maybe it's because many of them have children close to Emily's age and I know that she will never have the experience of a younger sibling? Maybe it's me finally accepting something I knew in my head but not completely in my heart? Maybe it's all of those reasons and more. 

It hurts. It stings. It's tough to process. It's not a feeling or an experience that I know many of my close friends share. But I know I'm not the only one struggling with these very strong, mixed feelings (that make me feel horribly guilty). 

So to those reading this who are also working through this internal battle: we can do this. Deep within ourselves, deeper than the pain, is joy. It's a beautiful thing. We can put aside the unspoken sadness, jealousy and even resentfulness to give these moms-to-be a genuine "Congratulations!"  Because they deserve every happiness and celebration during this exciting time. All babies are a blessing regardless of how they come into our lives. Until we are able to come to terms with it all, you have understanding, acceptance and solidarity here. 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Not My Story to Tell

I have a beautiful piece of artwork hanging in my office that says “your story matters.” I love hearing  people’s life stories because they contain so much power. It’s our individual successes, challenges, fears and raw honesty that allows us to truly connect with each other.

I’m always amazed at the people I meet in various settings that have adoption stories to tell. And yes, I’m a little biased, but adoption stories are hands down the best. Each are like snowflakes, all a little different, and yet, together they create a beautiful image.  I love sharing the story of how we came to be Emily’s parents and the journey that brought us together as a family. 

Yet, I always feel conflicted when I hear adoption stories that include information about a birth mom or birth family. I know often times these women and families faced unthinkable tragedy and difficult life circumstances that brought them to the decision that adoption was the best and only option for their child. My heart breaks a little every single time when I hear stories of birth mothers that abused drugs and alcohol, were victims of rape or domestic violence or struggled with mental illness.  And I feel incredibly protective of these individuals. Because I don’t think their story is our story to tell. 

Children don’t deserve to be labeled “fetal alcohol babies” or “drug babies.”  Those may be the challenges they were born into or born with but their worth is so much more.  I never want any child, including Emily, to be viewed as less than because of a label we place on them early in life. From the beginning we’ve started them off at a disadvantage because of something they had no control over. Labels diminish a child's potential. All children should know in the deepest part of their hearts that they matter, they belong and they are capable. And it’s our jobs as parents to show them and reinforce that message every single day.   

What happened prior Emily entering our life, isn’t my story to tell. Maybe it’s a story she will want to tell one day. That’s her decision to make. But my story, our story, will be what happened in the moments, days and years after that life changing phone call on a warm day in July. That story will start with what it truly was...happiness, excitement, and endless possibilities of a new chapter in life.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Being a Mom Has Brought Out the Best in Me

I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who has ever met me that I love being a mom. Yes, we have our crazy moments and I sometimes want to cry, scream, pull my hair out or do all three simultaneously. But I can honestly say that becoming a mother has made me a better person all around.  For instance....

I always have snacks with me. Need some goldfish, graham crackers, or applesauce? Check. I have them in my car, in my purse, and in various places around my house and work office. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been on a work trip or stuck in a long meeting and I have pulled a snack out of my purse. Lifesaving! Mama needs to eat, too. 

I can function off very little sleep. There was a time when I could not have gotten out of bed with less than 10 hours of sleep. No more! Nights spent sleeping in 3 hour blocks or for less than 6 hours total are the norm. Now, I’m not saying that it’s the best or healthiest way to be. But, I know that I can get less than an ideal amount of sleep AND rock an early morning meeting AND carry on intelligent conversations while making important decisions all. day. long. BRING IT, sleep deprivation!

I have fine-tuned my negotiation skills. Pre-toddler I would typically get flustered or frustrated if I tried to negotiating with someone. Or just give up trying it all together. But having a strong willed two year old has forced me to step up my game. What's that, baby girl? Don't want to go to bed? That's ok, you can read this book in your bed for a few minutes. Oh look at that, you are ASLEEP after 5 minutes. I win. Screaming about taking a shower? Look! There are bubbles in the tub! Let's see how many of them you can pop! Yup, and now you are taking a bath!  Oh, don't want to put on your shoes? How about we play a super, fun distracting game in which you have to hurry up and put sandals on before the imaginary fish tickle your feet? HA! You are now wearing shoes, sister! I know, I know it's a bit deceitful but (most) of the times it works. And when it doesn't I just have to live with a sleep deprived, unbathed child with no shoes. But only temporary until I come up with a new strategy.

I find that I'm unapologetic and more outspoken than I've ever been. And with a reason and a purpose.  Being a mom means that you are the #1 advocate for some who cannot advocate for themselves. You become their voice. That means if you have a question for the pediatrician, you ask it. If you don't like how things are going at day care, you bring it up with the director or teacher.  You make it your top priority to put everything about your baby first and foremost, which often times means stepping out of your comfort zone. And for someone who is non-confrontational, that's a big deal. 

But most of all, being a mom has forced me to make the most of my time and balance the fun with the work. Before Emily, work consumed my life and I liked it that way. I love what I do and am incredibly fortunate to work somewhere I am afforded a nice work/life balance. So, I make the most of it. Yes, there are long days with lots of work travel. But when I have a break from those days, I make sure to spend it with my sweet girl at the zoo, coloring and watching Mickey Mouse, or playing at the park. Spending that special time with her is so important to me because, when it's all said and done, everything I am and everything I have become is for her and because of her. And she deserves the best of me. 


Friday, September 5, 2014

Mornings with a 2 Year Old in 47 Easy Steps

Success! We made it to day care!

  1. Start by waking up 1 hour early to get yourself ready for the day in peace and quiet.
  2. Quietly let the dog outside.
  3. Forget dog is outside until she starts barking incessantly to be let back in.
  4. Usher dog back inside and quietly retreat to bedroom as you hear toddler stirring in her crib.
  5. After a quick shower, hair and makeup, return to the kitchen to prepare sippy cups and lunch for toddler (because you forgot the night before) as well as coffee for yourself.
  6. Drop a sippy cup on hardwood floor, silently curse under your breath and freeze in place to make sure the racket did not wake the little one.
  7. Carry on until all beverages and meals are prepared.
  8. Tip toe down the hall to bedroom to check on toddler.
  9. Hold breathe and crack open door to find her still asleep.  Whew.
  10. Turn around and accidentally step on dog (who is RIGHT under your feet, ALWAYS) who lets out little yelp.   I’m sorry Princess, but WHY must we do this every day?
  11. Toddler stirs at the sound of horrendous sound.
  12. Haul it back to your bedroom to frantically get dressed before she wakes up. Also do this quietly as, amazingly, husband is still asleep.
  13. Listen out via baby monitor for signs of baby waking up.
  14. At the sound of Velcro tab being removed from diaper (which means she is awake and is attempting to remove off her diaper) haul it back to her room to interrupt the unauthorized undressing.
  15. Greet toddler with the biggest smile and “good morning baby” which is oh-so sweetly returned to you. Highlight of the morning  thus far, hands down.
  16. Ask toddler if she is ready to get out of bed.
  17. Toddler emphatically informs you “NO” and rolls over. Wonder if we have somehow fast forwarded to teenage years....
  18. Bribe toddler out of bed with sippy cup of milk.
  19. Fetch sippy cup and proceed with assisted undressing of toddler.
  20. Attempt to restrain wiggly toddler with one hand while changing diaper with other hand.
  21. After multiple failed attempts, locate the toddler approved outfit from the dresser.  It does not match and you do not care.
  22. Wrestle toddler into said clothes sometimes with help from little one, sometimes with tears (for both of you).
  23. Wipe sweat from what was your freshly made up face.
  24. Fully dressed toddler now insists on cuddling with Daddy.
  25. Carry her into bedroom and wake up husband with a 30 pound toddler who felt the need to catapult herself into his stomach. 
  26. Reapply make up and finish last minute wardrobe touch ups.
  27. Pack toddler’s book bag with sippy cups and lunch for the day.
  28. Remind toddler, who is has now climbed off bed and is harassing dog, that we do not hit.  
  29. Optional step: Turn tv on to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Martha Speaks, Arthur or Curious  George.
  30. Drink coffee which you have forgotten about and is now cold.  
  31. Realize you are 10 minutes behind schedule for getting out of the house on time.
  32. Tell toddler it is time to go.
  33. Enjoy several minutes of sweet “ bye Daddy, I love  you Daddy, I love you Princey dog” and kisses all around.  Second high point of the morning.
  34. Put book bag on toddler.
  35. Catch a whiff of something unpleasant smelling and ask toddler “do you have a stinky?”
  36. Toddler responds with standard “NO!” and proceeds to run out of the room.  Which means the answer is in fact, “yes.”
  37. Locate a diaper and wipes, wrestle down toddler and change the diaper in record time.
  38. Forget and put diaper in bathroom trashcan  (which will be a most unpleasant welcome home in the evening) and wash hands.
  39. Put book bag back on toddler and repeat step 30.
  40. Remember that you forgot to comb toddler’s hair or brush her teeth. Make an effort to do both while she runs back and forth from your bedroom to bathroom all along wishing you had remembered step #29.
  41. Usher toddler out of house and outside.
  42. Toddler insists on walking down steps all by herself. DO NOT interfere and try to pick her up to hurry things along.  This will only make things worse.
  43. Finally get toddler into car seat, but she refuses to sit down and insists on turning car dome light on and off. And on and off.  And on and off.
  44. Bribe her with goldfish and quickly buckle her in when she sits down.
  45. Offer anywhere from 1-10 toys for her to play with in the car. Remember that 90% of the time she will choose the 10th option.
  46. Hurry around to the driver seat and crank up some Mickey Mouse or Frozen tunes to keep the fussing at bay. 
  47. Pull out the driveway a frazzled mess. And it’s only 7:30am. 

Congrats, mom! You did it! Only to do it all over again tomorrow morning. :)


Monday, September 1, 2014

Bye, Bye Summer!

It's officially here.  Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. While we are expected to have a heat index of 106 today, autumn is quickly approaching. Football has started back (although with a disappointing opening game, Gamecocks!) and the countdowns until Christmas are all over Facebook.

Memorial Day to now has been a big blur. But I do have fond memories of seafood cookouts in Wilmington with family for July 4th, a little one who celebrated her 2nd birthday and loved her t-ball set present, a week at the beach with "all our kids" that included a rare treat of night walks on the beach and bike rides with my one and only, trips to the Farmer's Market, hot days spent cooling off at the pool, a first and last Blowfish baseball game, and a wonderful work trip to Minneapolis. I'm thankful that memories were made and I have the Instagram pics to remember them.

I recently heard someone with little children say "the days are long but the years are short."  It's a perfect description of life as the mom of a now 2 year old and our life this summer. It's hard not to get caught up in the day to day without remember that it's all so fleeting.

And it's a shame that I just created the most perfect summer salad just this past weekend and I've eaten it every day since. Because it's just that good!

The Crescent Olive is the most amazing store in Columbia that makes delicious oils and vinegars. I had a tasting there on Friday (not as gross as it might sound) and left with two fantastic items: Cilantro and Roasted Onion Olive Oil and Grapefruit White Vinegar Balsamic.

Which lead to this heavenly creation:

 The pork chop was covered in the olive oil and baked in the oven. While it was very good, I think I'll pan fry it next time. The salad is really where it's at. It's a combination of mixed greens, strawberries, and blueberry vanilla goat cheese from Trader Joe's with the grapefruit balsamic. I'm salivating now just thinking about it. It's the perfect combo of sweet and tangy. And bonus points, it's healthy.

I'll call closing out the summer with a handful of special memories and an original recipe creation a success.  Bring on the cooler days, pumpkin spice anything and scarves with boots! 


Monday, July 21, 2014

What I Love About You

I'll be honest. I'm not sure I loved Emily at first sight. I was exhausted, apprehensive, nervous, scared, excited and fearful when I laid eyes on her for the first time. When we were able to take her home from the hospital, it felt like I could just sit and watch her for hours. I was amazed that this tiny little human was mine.

It's been 2 years since then and it's obvious now that I LOVE my little girl. And as I've said, time and time again, I really do love every age. 

I currently love two year old Emily...

Who calls herself "Emmy"
Who insisted on picking up 3 small leaves on my car and taking them in to daycare to show everyone her ‘leeeeaves"
That she calls flamingos ‘mingos’ and kitties “kit-a-lees”
Who pretends like she is still sleeping when I come to wake her up in the morning and giggles when I pull back the covers
Who puts her shoes on the wrong feet and tries to wear my heals around the house
Who loves to cuddle with us early in the morning
Who has to be rocked to sleep and says “no bed, no bed” if we try to put her in her crib before she falls asleep.
When she pats Randy and says “good girl” like she has heard him say to Princess.
When she insists the birds she hears in the trees are “monkeys.”
When I sneeze and she says “bess ew”
When she runs to me yelling “MOMMY!!!” when I pick her up from daycare.
Who loves Elmo, Arthur, Mickey and Cinderella and brings us the remote to turn on the TV
Who twirls around the house singing “let it go, let it go, let it go” from Frozen
Who goes from that to wanting to play "BASEBALL!" and starts hurling tennis balls at us so we will catch them and throw them back to her
Who wants to wear a Cinderella dress while she eats chicken nuggets
Who loves to read to us, especially Brown Bear Brown Bear
Who, when asked "do you want me to hold you" she says "hold you"
Who, when she doesn't want to eat a certain food she says "I no like"
Who sings her ABCs "la la la la p" and counts "1, 2, 5....8 9 10!"

I know these days are fleeting and I will soon forget many of these special and hilarious moments. But for now, I'm loving every bit of two year old Emily Grace.  Happy birthday, EG!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

4 Years

It's been 4 years and it's still tough. I think about her often and I rarely say her name out loud. When I do, I feel the tears start to fill my eyes. But I love seeing pictures of her and I find that it's a bit easier to write my thoughts and feelings. I  published the post below last year on this day. The words I wrote then are as true today as they were then....


I can't let today go by without talking about her. I've been debated posting this, for several reasons, but I find there's a bit of relief that comes with exposing hidden words and feelings.

I don't want today to define her. I think that one of the saddest parts about death is that ultimately that person is defined by the day they left us. There's no doubt that July 16, 2010 was one of the most traumatic days of my life. Who expects a seemingly healthy 9 year old  girl to be diagnosed with leukemia and pass away less than 10 months later? Lauren's illness affected everyone. Nobody really knew what to do, so we all did the best we could. Looking back, those months were a blur of sadness, anger, frustration, relief, happiness, and guilt. And after Lauren's death, all the negative feelings were intensified to the highest degree. There were days I seriously questioned my faith and if my marriage (that had just begun) would remain intact.

Those feelings still remain and resurface from time to time but they don't hurt as much. Her artwork and picture remain in my office and don't bring the unbearable tears they used to but instead give little flickers of joy. I found that in the middle of the the worst days over the last three years, my faith grew and my marriage was strengthened. The less I doubted and questioned God, the more more peace I had. And the more peace I had, the easier it was to see God's plan taking shape. I'm still in awe that amazingly wonderful things can  emerge out of something so awful.  Is it really a coincidence that Emily was born 2 years and 4 days after Lauren's death?

Today does not and will never define my niece, Lauren. She will forever be the little girl that I loved playing Barbies with and swimming with in her pool. She is still the little girl I was just getting to know as I was becoming part of a new family. Although my time as Aunt Megan was way too short, the memories we made and the things she taught me will stay with me forever.  Her life moves me to appreciate every day I have with those I love, to show compassion to all I meet (not knowing what they are going through or loss they have suffered), to serve others, to love and trust God, and to give endless hugs to and thanks for my own little girl. And one day, sweet Lauren, we'll play together again in heaven.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hello, July!

The summer is flying by! Last week we loaded up the car and drove down to Wilmington for the 4th. Despite threats of category one Hurricane Arthur, we braved the wind and rain and made it safely to Wilmington Thursday evening. Friday through Sunday were gorgeous days filled with lots of fun!

Emily and I went to the park and Aunt Kelly snapped some really cute photos with her awesome camera (because I don't remember the last time Emily had pictures that didn't come from my iPhone). Emily had a blast swinging and sliding.  This is the second time we've been to this park and the second time we have seen one of the alligators that lives there. Emily was just standing on the dock looking at the turtles when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a head gliding towards us in the water. I said a four letter that was definitely not child friendly, grabbed Emily and backed away as fast as I could. The alligator looked young and couldn't have been more than 4 feet long, BUT STILL. Alligator near my baby....not. cool.   

We had a blast playing at my parents house and Emily got some quality time with her grandparents while we went out on the boat. My sister, brother-in-law and their two friends love to fish and Randy and I went along for the ride. The water was beautiful and thanks to the high tides from Arthur, we were able to go back into areas that you normally wouldn't be able to access by boat. We spent a good three hours out there and only caught one fish but had lots of laughs and a very relaxing time.

 A trip to Wilmington wouldn't be complete with a trip to Port City Java and time on the beach. Sunday we loaded up and drove out to Carolina Beach early before the crowds descended upon us. The sky was clear, the beach was pretty empty and Emily basically lost her baby mind out there.  She ran back and forth from our chairs to the water. She splashed, she squealed, she fell down, she ran some more, and then she crashed. Which made for a very nice, quiet ride back home.

Our time in Wilmington is always too short and I'm already planning our next trip!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Leaning In

I’m part of a new, small little book club with some amazing women. We chose Lean In for our first book. I love to read and usually read pretty quickly but I INHALED this book. I think I finished it in 2 days. Every single page spoke to me and it could not have come at a better time in my personal and professional life. If you haven’t read it yet, do it. If you can’t commit to the whole book, at least check out Sheryl Sandberg’s TedTalk for the highlights.

Today, I got some amazing news at work. I was accepted to participate in a Leadership Institute for State Advocate class with the Annie E Casey Foundation. This is only the second time they have offered this class and I’m one of 18 people participating from across the country. This is a tremendous investment on the part of the Foundation and I think is a true reflection of their priority to improve the lives of America’s children through advocacy work.  It’s a fantastic experience but also a tremendous investment on my part: additional work outside of my usual work load and frequent travel for the 18 months beginning in November.

When I first got the application, I was excited but nervous. Should I do this? Could I do this? After much hemming and hawing (and discussion with husband and colleagues), I completed the application and submitted it.  But I was torn. I’ve always been ambitious with my career but I’m a mom now. And like it or not, that changes everything in a big way. I wasn’t sure I wanted to or could do something that would keep me away from my baby girl and her daddy.

But as God would have it, I started reading this book on my way to the interview for the leadership institute. And the more I thought and the more I read, the clearer it became. This rare opportunity before me was giving me the chance to lean in to my career and lean in to my family. The happier I am and the more opportunities I have at work, the more committed and satisfied I am with my work. And the more satisfied I am outside of my house, the more satisfied and dedicated I am to what goes on at my house.  But I wasn’t going to have those opportunities for growth and advancement personally and professionally if I didn’t lean in.

Now, I know I’m just at the beginning. I’m excited today but there is no doubt a long road ahead of me.  But I have to take this moment to say to all the career moms who struggle with this every. single. day (and as I reminder to myself when this journey gets rocky) LEAN IN. Lean in with everything you have. I know, some days it hurts like hell and you just cannot give one more ounce of yourself to anyone. But we aren’t going to make this world any better for our own kids and for all our children, if we don’t take the opportunities that are right in front of us, staring us in the face.

I don't know what other opportunities await me but for now, I'm going to enjoy this moment. I'm going to pick my little one up child care and celebrate over a dinner out and no dishes to clean. And then I'm going to lean in to my bed (because it's been an incredibly tiring week) and stay there at least until 7am tomorrow morning. Because we all know toddlers love to sleep in on a Saturday.

Here's to leaning in and new adventures....

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer is Here!

Although it's not "official" until tomorrow, summer is definitely here in South Carolina! We've been at or close to 100 degrees every day this week. The summer thunderstorms roll in almost like clockwork every afternoon. And we've got at least 3 more months of this. Welcome to the South! :)

Despite the sweltering heat, I love this time of year. Ok, I really love EVERY time of year but I REALLY love summer. Long days, outdoor activities, cool drinks. Can't beat it. 

Last year, I created a summer to-do list of all the things I wanted to do as a family. As always, I was a little ambitious but I think we managed to make our way at least half way through the list and had a great time doing it.

While I have yet to make an official list for summer 2014, I did come across a great blog post I just had to share with some excellent ideas. I'm sure we will do some of our usual warm weather activities like trips to the beach, outings to the zoo and farmers market, and visits to the pool. I would like to try some new things like check out the splash pad at Saluda Shoals or ride a train in Winnsboro. I'm loving the fact that Emily is older this year and able to do and enjoy new activities. The good times truly keep coming and it's a wonderful thing. :)

Whatever you do this summer, be sure to stay hydrated.  And don't try to take this girl's water bottle as her daddy found out the hard way. Let's just say there were big tears during the start of a very quiet wedding.

The look says it all.

Here's to summer 2014!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Overuse of the F Word

I have a growing problem. I’m starting to realize that I say the F word…a lot.

No, not that F word. 


I am constantly forgetting something. I forget I’m supposed to call someone back or to tell my husband I have a late meeting at work. I forget to get milk at the grocery store when that’s the one thing I went there for. I forget to send birthday and anniversary cards in a timely manner (don’t even get me started on baby or wedding presents). Sometimes (sorry Princess) I forget I haven’t fed the dog since yesterday.  I forget now why I started writing this post….

I used to be AMAZING at remembering things. In college, grad school and early on in my career, I was on top of it. Calendars, to-do lists, and e-mails were all up to date. I didn’t let things slip through the cracks and I was always one step ahead of myself.  

But recently, I’ve noticed a serious slip. Call it old age (does this happen to everyone as soon as they crossover 30?!) or mommy brain (I’m convinced that’s a legit medical condition) or call it whatever you want, but it isn’t pretty. So far (fingers crossed), I haven’t managed to forget anything major. I’m still employed, my kid is safe and my marriage is intact.  I think most people I interact with on a daily basis, know that my forgetfulness isn’t an excuse but a genuine problem I’m struggling with. I truly hope that the next time the phrase “I’m so sorry, I forgot!” comes out of my mouth that my friends, family and colleagues will respond with another F word…forgiveness.

So until I figure out the magic solution for my forgetfulness (Ginkgo biloba, anyone?) please just laugh it off and enjoy receiving our family Christmas card in July.