Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"Just a day, just an ordinary day" Vanessa Carlton

Almost daily, I am overwhelmed with the desire to document everything. I'm sure most parents are the same way...an iPhone full of pictures and videos of the most mundane things that seem so special at the time. Looking back, I NEVER regret capturing the moments I have captured, but I am often burdened with what to do with the pictures and videos. They sit on my phone until I upload them to iPhoto. I may get around to printing one or two and occasionally I will blog about a specific event or trip, but rarely do I share the ordinary things of day to day living...and THIS is what I want to remember. 



The girls are so fun and so different. I have decided this picture sums them up. There are obviously many moments each day where Madison ISN'T happy and when Reagan is sweet and interactive with her sister, but this captures their overall outlook on life.

Currently, Madison is 8 months. Within the last week, she has really taken interest in crawling. She rolled over at 6 months, but didn't really get serious about it until about 7 months. The same has gone for moving. She started scooting and rolling with a purpose about 3 weeks ago, but now she is determined! Her biggest motivation is Buddy's ball and I am disgusted to admit that I have caught her gumming it more than once. Ew. 

She is SO full of joy! A very different baby than Reagan was. Whereas Reagan was very content and even-keeled, Madi {from birth} has had a much bigger personality. Her highs are higher and her lows are lower than Reagan's were as a baby. I am very curious to see how her personality continues to develop. It should be lots of fun and lots of work parenting her :)

She is starting to wave as of this week. It isn't always on command, but it is undoubtedly on purpose when she does do it. Also, she has almost 6 full teeth.




And then there's Miss Reagan. I just did a 2 year update, but honestly, things change so dramatically in two months {I mean, just take a look at how much hair she has now!} She starts the day with guns blazing...my once late sleeper is now an early riser and is always ready for an adventure! She has especially been into taking pictures with my phone. She has been interested in taking pictures for a while now, but it seems to have really ramped up lately...including posing and asking me to take her picture. I don't know where she gets this from. In fact, we just took our first family photo this weekend, so it's not like it's something she has done before. But just the other day, she noticed a big empty storefront and ran across the mall to pose in front of it. It was right after she asked if she could wear my scarf...America's Next Top Model, get ready!



Then she wanted me to pose. I hope you can see her little reflection in that picture. It cracks Matt and I up every time we look at it. 



I guess I didn't really do a good job of summing up an ordinary day. The truth is all of our days different. We wake up. We eat. We do laundry. We might get out of the house to go to the grocery store, the park, the beach, the mall, the Zoo, SeaWorld, or lunch with mommy's friends...we nap, we color, we watch Disney Junior, we go for walks, we blow bubbles, we have bath time, we {sometimes} cook dinner, we get excited when Daddy comes home. There's really nothing extraordinary about the ordinary, but it is such a special season for us and I want the memories of these days to stay fresh in my mind.
















Monday, April 07, 2014

"On this day for you, we're gonna love you in every way" New Kids on the Block

Reagan turned 2!! Yes, it was over two months ago, but since I am committed {though, admittedly, not very committed} to documenting our family life, I am still going to post about it.

We planned on a very simple at-home party. There was some theming involved, but mostly so I could have a narrowed focus when choosing things to decorate with. I am naturally drawn to red and black {Go Dawgs!} and I love polka dots, so we went in that direction...and then we added bows because Reagan always wears them...which also happens to be the Minnie Mouse direction...which also happens to be Reagan's favorite. So I suppose it was a Minnie Mouse birthday party, though not overtly so. 



Once I had a thematic direction, I couldn't resist getting my friend Carol involved. She is a true cookie artist and her cookies were truly my favorite part of the entire party!



My second favorite part was my hair. Kimberly made it into a bow!



The day before her party was scheduled, we had some plumbing issues at our house causing a some water damage that required immediate attention by way of giant, loud, industrial strength fans in our kitchen. Not only did this mean hosting a party would be complicated, it also created some barriers to actually living at our house during this process. So we packed up the girls and headed to a hotel for several days and ended up hosting the party there. {Matt Hughes is AMAZING at making lemonade out of life's lemons!}



The important thing to us was to ensure we still created an opportunity to celebrate our little girl. Although many of our friends ended up not being able to make it due to sickness our our spontaneous change of plans, many still did come and it was so special. I tend to battle with loneliness on birthdays and holidays being so far away from friends and family, so to be reminded that we are NOT alone and we are among friends who are like family is always refreshing and life-giving.



I truly am blown away by Reagan everyday. From the day she was born, I have been overwhelmed with love for her and that is true even today. Although we are in the middle of a tough season filled with defiance and boundary testing, I am still so proud and excited to be her mommy. Seeing the world through a child's eyes brings a feeling of refreshment and newness to the world. It also adds an whole new element of fear and anxiety I never had before, but with God's great power, I am sorting that out...daily. 

At two years old, Reagan can practically carry on a conversation with any adult. She understands most everything we tell her. She notices details and remembers things way better than I do. She is still great at entertaining herself as long as there aren't others around who she would rather have as entertainment. Her previous compliant and easy-going personality is waning a bit, though hopefully not for good. She is doing the appropriate job of a two year old and displaying some independence. Our daily battle is reminding her to "be kind" in her words, her tone, and her actions. It's a constant reminder for me to do the same. Quite honestly, she is better at it than me. 

She can walk into new situations with a lot of confidence. She is rarely timid and it is usually only when we are asking her to do something {like say hello, etc.} Left to herself, she is very sociable, polite, and outgoing. It is very common for her to start a conversation with a perfect stranger {child or adult}. From the sidelines, it breaks my heart when the engaged party doesn't engage her back, but that's life and she's learning that. 

She is mostly very kind to her sister. Lately {at 2 years, 2 months} she has had a hard time understanding why Madison can yell, but she can't. She doesn't understand that Madison is learning to talk and that's what babies do. It's a very difficult concept to explain and I know it's confusing, so I'm trying to display grace while also expecting obedience. My favorite moments are when Reagan asks to hold Madi. She will sit on the couch with her arms open while I set Madi down and then wrap them around her tummy. She usually gives a squeeze and says, "Oh, Madi. I so proud of you." It lasts for about 8 seconds before she lets go and Madi topples over...and usually ends with her saying, "Madi, you too heavy." It's very funny and a great reminder that toddlers have no filter and will do or say what they want when they want to with little regard for anyone else.



These pictures are now two months old and she already looks so different. There are moments when I can catch a glimpse of the baby I held in my arms for the first time, but mostly I see who she is now and who she is becoming. She is truly a treasure that Matt and I cherish very deeply. She has brought so much joy and FUN to our lives and I pray we have a lifetime of more memories to come!






Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Right here and now...it means everything" Van Halen

My sweet Madison,

You are cutting two teeth, have terribly painful gas, and are having a hard time napping lately. I spent the past 20 minutes trying to figure out how to help you, with no success.

I finally laid down with you, but you still weren't quite content. Happy, but squirmy, chatty, and grabbing at my face. Out of desperation, I snuggled your little head into the crease of my elbow and you let out a sigh, closed your eyes, and fell fast asleep. The mystery is solved...you just needed me!

I have Christmas tree needles to vacuum off the floor, decorations to box up for storage, a birthday party to plan, several rooms to pick up, a kitchen floor to sweep, and unspeakable amounts of laundry to tend to. But you have made it clear that this is where I am needed most right now, so the rest will have to wait.





Saturday, January 04, 2014

"Goodbye to you {2013}" Michelle Branch

The pressure of a "year end" blog post full of wit and inspiration is mounting and I don't really like unnecessary pressure. BUT I do want to cap off the year in some way, so I had the idea to find a picture to represent something significant from each month in 2013. I was looking for pictures of when we found out about Madison, but that was in 2012...wow, time flies when you're getting older! 

Here goes!


In JANUARY, we celebrated Reagan's first birthday in Atlanta with family and friends. It was special and fun and emotional and memorable...all the makings for a great first birthday!


In FEBRUARY, we cruised for Chick-fil-A Seminar on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

 


In MARCH, we both turned 30 and celebrated with food, fun and friends. 

In APRIL, we celebrated Ryan's birthday with a trip to Disneyland's Club 33. So fun!  


In MAY, we had very special visitors! Mandy, Martha, Olivia and Emma came all the way from Georgia to spend the week with us. Such special memories!


Also in MAY, Reagan had her first wedding gig as a flower girl. I think that's worth mentioning! 



                        


JUNE was a significant month on several accounts. We escaped for a staycation "babymoon", buried Matt's grandfather, and recevied the news of Branch's diagnosis. Let's hope June 2014 is less eventful than 2013.



In JULY, our sweet Madison arrived...turning us into a family of four and changing our lives forever!




IN AUGUST, we didn't do much besides sleep. All of us. A lot.



In SEPTEMBER, we did something I swore I wouldn't do for a while and renewed our Disneyland passes. We took Madison for her first visit!


In OCTOBER, we visited Julian for some cooler weather and apple pie. {It should be noted that it was actually a really hot day...seems like we can never time our Julian trips right}




Also in OCTOBER, we dressed the girls up several times because it seemed like a fun thing to do. It was! 


In NOVEMBER, we celebrated Baby Branch at a shower for Kristin. It was perfect! 




We welcomed precious babies into the world! Baby Charlotte, Baby Rain, and Baby Selah! {Charlotte was actually born in October on her mama's birthday {so cool!}, but we didn't meet her until November.}


Also in NOVEMBER, we added a family member! Matt's brother Jeff married Beth. We love her!

 


Wow. DECEMBER. What a month. We met Baby Branch. Said goodbye to Baby Branch. Walking what will hopefully be the hardest road we will ever have to walk with friends {or ourselves for that matter}. There is no promise that it will be the hardest thing, but we can certainly hope!


 

We celebrated Madison's first Christmas and our first Christmas in Georgia as a married couple. It was special to be with family for such a significant holiday.


December 31, 2013 at the Chick-fil-A Bowl and there is no one I would rather have by my side. I love having this man on my team. He makes bad days better and celebrates life in a way that I probably wouldn't do on my own because it's too much work. Ha! 

Goodbye 2013! You are certainly a year that we will never forget for many reasons. Looking forward to all that 2014 will hold. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"It's a bittersweet symphony, this life" The Verve

Every coffee drinker seems to be able to pinpoint the exact time in life when they became a coffee drinker. I don't know if I could quite categorize myself as such yet, but I am certainly walking on the fence. "Hi. I'm Jessica, and I started drinking coffee shortly after having my second child." Vanilla lattes are my favorite, specifically the Best Drink Ever {yes, that's what it is really called} from Better Buzz here in San Diego. Special thanks to my friend, Glenn, for the addiction. No, seriously, thank you...caffeine is a helpful drug these days!

Anyway, I'm stalling...because I am actually here to write about the bittersweet. I thought an intro about coffee would be appropriate because it is a form of bittersweet that you can actually taste. Maybe it's just part of getting older and experiencing more of life, but it feels that lately I am literally tasting the bittersweet of life. 

Some of our dearest friends welcomed their baby boy into this world two weeks ago, and one week ago, they held him as he went to be with Jesus. {You can read more of their story here.} Never in my life have I walked a more bittersweet road...I almost typed "never have I watched a friend walk a more bittersweet road", but the truth is, we have been walking it as well. Rejoicing over the news of Kristin's pregnancy, weeping with news of the diagnosis {anencephaly}, and mourning with them and for them now that baby Branch is gone.



At first, I was sad that the Christmas season would always be marked with this great tragedy for them, but there was so much sweetness wrapped up in the bitter. The way God specifically and abundantly answered prayers. The way they had an entire week with Branch when they weren't promised more than a few minutes at most. Each moment we spent with Branch was saturated with bittersweetness in a way I have never before experienced. Every little noise or move he made and every breath he took was cause for celebration, but the reality of his diagnosis always there.

So really, the Christmas season is fitting of this situation. If you stop to think about it, the sweetness of Jesus' birth is also marked with the bitter truth that He did, after all, come to die. 




I got to spend time with sweet Branch just about every day that he was on this earth. He was truly a remarkable baby to behold. Not only did he confuse and surprise all of the "experts", he was so darn cute while doing it. I don't know the details of how God's plan for the future will unfold, but I know we will get to see him again. I know Glenn and Kristin will get to hold him and tell him how precious he is to them. And although it will feel like a long time until then, I am grateful that eternity is a much longer time than a lifetime here on earth. 

I don't have a pretty bow to tie up this blog post. I just needed to get these thoughts out. I hope to never journey through something like this again. It's painful and heartbreaking and it isn't how things should be. But after walking beside Glenn and Kristin these past several months, I know that God will still show up in the bleakest of circumstances. It is who He is. If we are willing to hold His hand instead of walking through tragedies with our fists clenched, kicking and screaming, He is faithful to draw near.