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Lettuce wraps

Quick post!

For breakfast I had coffee with coconut creamer, and Chex cereal with coconut milk.

Lunch, grilled chicken on a bed of spinach leaves, with a chopped avocado and two hard boiled eggs. I added a little olive oil, spicy mustard, and salt/pepper on top. Very, very good.

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Snacks, I had two gluten free waffles, a chocolate nut Lara Bar, a few grapes, some gluten free pretzels, and tea. I’m just realizing now that I hardly had any fruit today. I need to step that up tomorrow!

For dinner I had pulled pork with peppers, tomatoes, and hot salsa in lettuce wraps. Something different. Was very tasty.

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Today’s exercise? I took advantage of the warm weather and went for a nice, long walk with Mags.

Goodnight!

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CCCC’s: Colleen’s Cocoa Coconut Cookies

The challenge is going well so far, folks!

I’ve been eating a lot of salads, hard boiled eggs, chicken, avocados, fruit (particularly bananas with cinnamon, and clementines), Chex cereal, and gluten-free waffles. Those have been my staples thus far.

Here are a few gluten-free, dairy-free food highlights from the weekend:

Friday afternoon Maggie and I met Megan and the boys at Orange Leaf for some frozen yogurt. I thought I would be sh*t out of luck because I figured all frozen yogurt had dairy in it. But, no! Both the orange and pineapple flavors were dairy-free, so I went with pineapple. I added coconut shreds, walnuts, and strawberries on top. It was good, very refreshing.

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I made pizza on Friday night with gluten-free dough from Whole Foods, red sauce that we had in the freezer (shout out to my lovely mother in law Nancy for making it!), and Daiya mozzarella style shredded cheese (http://us.daiyafoods.com/products/dairy-free-cheese-shreds/mozzarella-style-shreds). It was delicious! Not as great as regular pizza to me (what is?), but quite good.

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Saturday, Megan and I went to look at two gyms in the area and found one we really liked and think we’re going to join. We brought Maggie and Brian along for the ride (pictured below). It was fun having everyone in the same car together! Usually we can’t do that because of the car seat situation, but Meg just put Brian’s seat in my car, and we were good to go.

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Later in the day, Colin, Maggie, and I took a trip to Home Depot. Maggie was not impressed…

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Before Home Depot, Colin and I went to Heavenly Donuts for a coffee. I thought they had almond milk at the location we went to, but they didn’t! I was disappointed, but chose their lactose-free milk option instead. I didn’t really think about it much at the moment that I ordered the coffee, but after I took a sip of it, I said to Colin, “lactose-free milk is still considered dairy isn’t it?” It is, unfortunately, which is not part of the plan. But, it was an honest mistake, so I went with it and enjoyed my coffee.

For dinner, we had steak and salad. Forgot a picture! Don’t worry, it was good. After dinner, I was in DESPERATE need of a sweet treat. I decided to throw together some ingredients and make cookies. Turns out, my gluten-free, dairy-free cookie experiment turned out great. I was pleasantly surprised. Colin (the gluten, dairy lover) even said they were good!

So, without further ado, here are the ingredients for the CCCC’s Colleen’s Cocoa Coconut Cookies (so creative):

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1 mashed banana

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (I thought I had vegetable but only had canola so just used that)

I mixed everything together and baked them for twenty minutes. Boom! Easy, delicious cookies.

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Today was so beautiful out! We took a ride to Newburyport for some walking and sunshine. We stopped into the Revitalive Cafe (http://www.revitalive.com/about-the-cafe/), and I got a green juice (cucumber, apple, spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, lemon, and ginger) and a dairy-free, gluten-free brownie. It was a nice afternoon snack. I ended up saving half of my brownie for dessert tonight (which was a good call).

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Dinner tonight was chicken on the grill, along with kale and broccoli.

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Thirty minute exercises for the weekend were:

Friday, two barre videos that I did in the kitchen.

Saturday, pushing Maggie up and down the aisles of Home Depot (this counts, people!!).

Today, walked around downtown Newburyport for about forty-five minutes.

I’m relaxing for the rest of the night, and then going to bed soon. Goodnight, y’all!

Walking Around the ‘Hood

Today has been a long, productive day. I am pooped! Here’s a quick recap of yesterday’s meals, before I head to bed.

Yesterday, for breakfast, I had cinnamon flavored Chex cereal (it’s gluten-free!), and coffee with coconut milk creamer.

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For lunch, I was ravenous, and scarfed down a huge salad with grilled chicken (leftover from dinner the previous night) and avocado. It was so good!

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For snacks, I had a peanut butter and jelly flavored Lara bar (not bad), and a gluten-free waffle.

For dinner, we had gluten-free sweet Italian chicken sausages on the grill, along with grilled onion and red pepper. I put the sausage/grilled veggies on a bed of lettuce. Not too shabby.

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Dessert? Tea!

Exercise was a 45 minute walk around the ‘hood in the beautiful sunshine.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Maggie in her cute spring “mouse outfit” from her cousins in Ireland. I thought it was appropriate to wear today given yesterday’s situation…

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Goodnight, folks!

There is a Mouse in the House

[This post would have been up much earlier had a mouse not invaded my house and nearly attacked me!]

[Yes, I am being dramatic. But, yes, there was a small mouse in here earlier. EEK!]

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who read yesterdays post, and for all of the positive feedback and motivation! I was pleasantly surprised by how many people read the post, and commented on it. Knowing people will be following my progress throughout this challenge (30 day gluten-free, dairy-free, 30 minutes of exercise challenge: http://wp.me/pQbAA-1yE) will absolutely help keep me going. Maybe others might be able to find motivation here, as well!

If you are someone who has experience with a gluten-free/dairy-free (or both) diet, or great thirty minute exercise ideas, please feel free to pass them along. I would love any tips and/or ideas! I have already received a few, which I am very grateful for.

Here are some of the things I bought at the store this week to help me in this challenge:

Gluten free pretzels

Gluten free waffles

Sweet potato chips

Dairy free, coconut milk yogurt

Coconut milk

Coconut milk creamer

Chex cinnamon flavored cereal

Gluten free chicken sausages

Lots of fruits and vegetables

My format is going to [hopefully] be to write about the previous days meals and exercise every day, just as an FYI.

So, on to yesterday…

For breakfast I had two hard boiled eggs cut up, along with a diced avocado, topped with spicy mustard. I took a picture, and then for some reason deleted it, sooo…no picture of that. But, it was really good. I loved the addition of the mustard.

For lunch I had a BIG, delicious salad.

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For snacks, I had a Lara bar (the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor is wonderful), and some gluten free pretzels.

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Since we were ridiculously excited for how nice it was outside yesterday, we decided to grill. We had grilled chicken and veggies (red pepper, onion, and eggplant).

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I had some tea after dinner as my treat for the night. I love having (caffeine free) tea before bed. Helps me relax, and it’s almost like a cue for my body to recognize that it is bedtime. Plus, it usually helps curb any leftover hunger that dinner didn’t satisfy (doesn’t always work, but usually does).

For exercise, Maggie and I went on a lovely walk (for about 45 minutes to an hour). It was beautiful again! I am getting used to this. Please don’t take it away from us, Mother Nature.

I’m off to enjoy a small glass of wine. That mouse rattled my nerves!

My 30-day gluten-free, dairy-free, 30-minutes of exercise a day CHALLENGE

Having a baby changes your body in all sorts of ways. This is something I obviously knew before I got pregnant, but was a whole different ball game once I actually was pregnant. I’ve been through many different phases with my body throughout pregnancy; it is an ever-changing relationship. In the beginning of my pregnancy, it was hard to accept that my body was growing. I was just talking about this with my brother the other day; last summer while I was on the beach I was very newly pregnant — i.e. in the “is she pregnant, or just gaining weight?” phase. It’s crazy because it is SUCH an exciting time — the new feeling of WOW I’m going to have a baby! — that you don’t want any negative thoughts to creep in at all. During this time, it was also a little tough to accept I was going to have a whole new body for 40 weeks.The thought of putting on 30+ pounds scared me. But don’t worry, I went above and beyond that! I gained around 50 pounds.

After the phase of “is she pregnant, or just gaining weight?” came the actual bump, and I must say I loved this phase! The bump is fun. Embrace the bump. Rejoice in wearing pants with stretchy tops and eating lots without worrying about your stomach showing (because it’s obviously going to show anyway! And in a cute way). Even though I did love my baby bump, there were days when I wondered how I looked — I gained a decent amount of weight, and even though the bump is great, gaining weight in my arms, thighs, and face wasn’t as great. It was all part of my process (which is fine!), but towards the end of my pregnancy I was ready to do away with that part of pregnancy. Now that my beautiful Maggie is here and I am no longer pregnant, I am going through a whole new phase with my body. This is also a confusing phase. I call it the “I am amazed by my body but also don’t want to look pregnant anymore” phase. I truly am amazed by the human body; I grew this awesome (and I mean awesome in every true sense of the word) human in my body. I pushed her down my body, and out into the world. She looked into my eyes minutes after she was born. My body gives Maggie the food and nourishment she needs to survive. It’s all so cool. I am so thankful for this body which gave life to my daughter.

Now, while I am in total awe of my body, at two months postpartum, I am ready to slowly start dropping some of the weight I gained throughout my pregnancy, and hopefully eventually toning back up. I gained a lot while pregnant with Maggie, so the thought of dropping a ton of weight intimidates me. Over the past two weeks when I thought about it, I would feel overwhelmed. Where will I start? Can I really do this? Will I fail and be at this weight forever? I decided a few things.

1. It took 40 weeks to put this weight on. It’s going to take a while to take it off. Accept that. Be okay with that. Move on.

2. I am a competitive person by nature (even if I am only competing with myself), so I decided to start my journey with a challenge.

3. Blogging helps me stay accountable. Once I put something online, I’m like, “OK I HAVE to do it now. I can’t lie to the people!” So, I am going to blog about this thirty day challenge.

4. I will not let myself get overwhelmed. I am going to take this journey step by step. If I just follow the rules I have set, I know I will see results by the end of the month, which will then hopefully give me motivation to keep going into May with another challenge. That’s the mentality I have, and hope to continue to have. Also, no bending the rules whatsoever!

5. The most important reason for doing this challenge is that I want to be healthy. I let myself enjoy many, many treats while pregnant, and even during these two months after having Maggie. While I was pregnant, I didn’t want to worry about whether it was okay to have ice cream every night or not. I wanted to indulge. I knew what I would be faced with after I gave birth, and I was okay with that at the time. But now it’s time to have a more healthy diet and attitude (think more vegetables and fruits and less five slices of pizza binges, or whole box of Girl Scout cookie snacks).

So, the challenge is to go gluten-free, dairy-free, and to exercise for at least thirty minutes a day. This means exercise of any kind! Walking, running, weights, yoga, etc. Pinterest has been super helpful in organizing my ideas for this challenge. Check out my gluten-free, dairy-free, 30-min exercise board here: http://www.pinterest.com/thedailycraic/gluten-free-dairy-free-30min-of-exercise-a-day-apr/. This is not going to be easy. (I LOVE cheese, so that will be the hardest part of this, I think). However, I just want to challenge myself to try this out and see where it gets me by the end of the month. It’s an experiment.

I started the challenge yesterday, April 1st, and it will go all the way until the end of April. At that point, I will evaluate how I’m doing, and I may decide to start a new challenge. The goal of this April challenge for me, is to get back in the saddle — to kick start my healthier lifestyle. Wish me luck!

Day one went pretty well. Maggie and I went on a walk with my sister Megan and my nephews Declan and Brian. We were walking for about an hour and fifteen minutes; it was so nice out! Hopefully now with the weather getting nicer Maggie and I will be able to go on a walk everyday.

For breakfast I had two hard boiled eggs and an avocado. Lunch was a salad and a bowl of strawberries and grapes. My snack was a Lara bar (the pecan pie flavor is SO delicious) http://www.larabar.com/. And dinner was banana bread pancakes (my picture looks disgusting, but they were actually good). I found the recipe on Pinterest: http://www.dailybitesblog.com/2013/03/19/5-ingredient-banana-bread-pancakes/. I was still hungry after eating my pancakes so I decided to roast some red potatoes. They were great and satisfied my hunger. Throughout the day I also had some coffee (with coconut milk creamer instead of half and half), as well as Mother’s Milk tea http://traditionalmedicinals.com/products/mothers-milk/ (really good, and helps my milk supply).

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On two different notes:

Yesterday Maggie was officially two months!

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And today is Autism Awareness Day http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/world-autism-awareness-day. Take time today to learn a little more about Autism. Or hug someone with Autism. I know I will.

Here are Maggie and I lighting the world blue.

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The Birth Story of Maggie Grace (And Happy One Month!)

ImageImageIt has been one month.

One month since I was pregnant, and then – BOOM! – I wasn’t pregnant (well, it wasn’t exactly as quick as BOOM! but you know what I mean). How has my life changed since the BOOM! of being pregnant, to then holding and caring for a baby? It has changed drastically in many different ways. This post is going to be long, because I want to write about our birth. I want to remember it, and I want to be able to share it with Maggie some day. So, my point in saying this is…good luck with getting all the way to the end, because it’s long…very long. And if you do get to the end, you win a prize.

Labor, delivery, and then holding your baby for the first time are all CRAZY experiences, in my opinion. Let’s see if I can properly explain any of this…

Contractions started for me on Thursday, January 30th while I was at the movies watching Saving Mr. Banks with my friend Christine. They strengthened a bit that night, but seemed to go away Friday morning and most of the day. But then, BOOM!, they were back for more Friday night – growing consistently stronger and closer together. My goal was to labor at home for as long as possible, but by about 3:00 a.m. we decided it was time to head to the hospital. We arrived around 3:30, I was 4 cm dilated and my midwife said it would probably be about twelve hours from then that our baby would be with us. And guess what? She said this at about 3:45 a.m. Saturday morning, and Maggie arrived at 3:49 p.m. Saturday afternoon (February 1st). Pretty good guess, Rebecca!

I was the only one in the labor and delivery wing the day Maggie was born, which was really nice. The whole floor was quiet and peaceful – a perfect setting for the birth I envisioned. See, Colin and I had taken a five week hypnobirthing course in preparation for the day I went into labor. What drew us to the course were the relaxation techniques that I could use while I was in labor. I had a lot of anxiety while pregnant when I thought about actually HAVING the baby. Contractions, transition, pushing, crowning – they all made me tense and pretty terrified. I literally could cry on the spot when I thought about going into labor (ask Colin!) and knew I needed something to help calm me down. From what I read, and heard from my sister Megan and brother in law Matt (who took the course before the birth of their first son Declan) – I knew hypnobirthing could help me achieve my goal of a natural birth.

Our course and our instructor were extremely helpful. Probably by the third class, I was already feeling much calmer about everything. By the end of the course, and with continued practice of the meditations we learned as well as incorporating my affirmations into my life as much as possible, I was very calm when I thought about bringing our baby into the world. I was maybe a little (VERY little, honestly) nervous when I thought about going into labor, for fear of the unknown, but ultimately the course taught me to trust myself, my body, and my baby to do what they needed to do to bring Maggie safely into the world. Our bodies were meant to grow and birth a baby – there was nothing I needed to be afraid of. As someone who can be pretty insecure, it was hard at first for me to trust myself, but throughout my pregnancy I learned to. I’m not all the way there by any means, but becoming a mother is truly helping me with that. Thankfully I fully trust my amazing husband with all my being, and he was incredibly supportive of taking this hypnobirthing course with me, reading meditations to me, and being there whenever a fearful thought crept in. He helped me believe I could accomplish this, that I was strong enough to do this.

So back to birth day! My AMAZING husband Colin and my AMAZING mother Michelle were with me as I got through each contraction. My AMAZING midwife Barbara (Rebecca switched shifts by the time things got REALLY real) and my AMAZING nurse Angela were in and out helping with anything I needed, and then they were there the whole time during the transition/pushing phases. I thought I would only want my husband and mother in the room with me (in addition to my midwife and nurse of course), but then when I didn’t think I could go on any further – I really wanted my AMAZING big sister Meg. She had just recently (this past June) had a natural birth (with her son Brian) and I knew I could use her support as well. She came right to the hospital and rounded out my AMAZING birth team. I am saying AMAZING a million times in this paragraph, because that’s what each one of them are to me. Yes, I am the one who physically pushed Maggie out, but I could NOT have done this without Colin, Michelle, Barbara, Angela, and Megan. I couldn’t have. And I wouldn’t have wanted to. Each one of them gave me something different – a sense of calm, an understanding that these feelings wouldn’t last forever and that our baby would be there soon, a cold wash cloth on my forehead and ice on my back (back labor – ouch!), prayers, a hand to hold and encouraging words – I am so grateful for all of the help I received. This was a team effort, and Maggie was on our team too, of course. She worked with me and did everything she was supposed to do – she was just as AMAZING as everyone else. These people helped me succeed in accomplishing my goal of a natural birth. (**Side note – a natural birth is not for everyone. And there is nothing wrong with a different birth path using interventions. It is what each and every woman is comfortable with. After giving birth I would NEVER judge someone for wanting an epidural or other pain remedies – it is hard work with or without help!)

Also, our AMAZING friend Lisa was there all day to capture this adventure on video. She is truly a gift, that Lisa! I will forever cherish our video.

So here are a few snipits about my specific labor. Using the shower on and off throughout the twelve hours was so, so, so helpful for my body, especially because I experienced back labor. Back labor stinks – there really is no way to sugar coat it. It was painful. Using the tub during the transition phase let me feel a sense of relaxation – I didn’t want my body to tense up during this important time. I ate throughout the twelve hours, which kept my energy levels up (banana chips will forever remind me of this day). It is imperative that you drink water throughout this process. Make sure you have someone remembering this for you and forcing you to (you will have other things to think about and focus on…) Like they say, try your best to rest in between contractions. I was so tired that by the transition phase I was pretty much falling asleep in between contractions. But, come time to push I was ready to go. I pushed with sheer determination for about fifty minutes. I loved knowing that it was time to push, because you can finally understand that this is actually happening – the baby will be here soon, for real. My midwife didn’t really update me on how dilated I was throughout the process, which I was thankful for. What is the point in knowing, really? Just keep on keeping on and it’s obviously going to happen one way or another. If I knew how dilated I was every step of the way I think that would have made me anxious.

So anyway, I pushed and pushed – probably breaking my mom and Colin’s hands off in the process – and actually pulled Maggie right out onto my chest. WOW, that was cool! This moment was incredibly surreal and I know I won’t be able to describe it, but know that it was beyond words. I remember feeling SO HAPPY. So happy it was all finished, but that it was also just beginning. Maggie was finally here! Somehow all my energy came back (for a little while) and the room immediately filled with love with everyone who entered to meet our darling girl. We didn’t even fully decide on Maggie’s name for about an hour or so. We were deciding between Maggie and Lucy – and for some reason Maggie just seemed to fit her better. So, we went with Maggie Grace Temple. Twenty inches, and 8 pounds 2 ounces of perfection.

Those first two nights of Maggie’s life while we were in the hospital consisted of some sleep, lots of special visitors, Colin and I looking at Maggie in amazement, then at each other with crazy happy smiles on our faces, good food (seriously…they actually had good food at our hospital), lots of popping in and out by nurses, sleeping through the Super Bowl, Colin’s first experience changing a baby’s diaper, my first few experiences breastfeeding (wondering if I were even doing it correctly), realizing I still looked about five months pregnant even after Maggie wasn’t in there anymore (umm why don’t we magically go back to our pre-bump bodies?!), cuddling with Mags, texting/calling people, and updating our social media accounts with the good news. I honestly would have, and still would, shout our news from the rooftops!

People can tell you a million things about having a baby, but people couldn’t tell me a million things about ME and My child. Everyone is so different, and your experiences inevitably will be different. People couldn’t tell me how my heart would explode with love every time I breastfed Maggie (even if it would be tough on my nipples sometimes). They couldn’t tell me that my husband was some sort of magic swaddler of babies (with never having done it before), or that I’d miss Maggie when I wasn’t holding her (even if we were in the same room – crazy, I know!), or how watching her smile would bring me more joy than I could EVER imagine (even if people tell you that, you can’t actually know what they mean until you’re experiencing it). They could tell you that you’ll fall in love with your husband all over again, but you can’t understand that until you see YOUR husband with the baby you created together resting on his chest, or that first kiss you share after the final push that brings your baby into the world. They can tell you how great it is when you hold your baby, but they can’t explain the feeling you get when she sinks into you with complete comfort knowing she is in her mother’s arms.

Hopefully you have seen great generosity from people in your life – I know I have. But I couldn’t have imagined the generosity I would see from people throughout my pregnancy, and now with Maggie having arrived. Cards, flowers, cookies, fruit, meals, gifts, kind words and well wishes have been sent from all over the world, for our little girl. Colin’s parents and sister cleaned our house for us before we got home, and made dinner for us to eat the day we got home from the hospital so we had a home cooked meal. My father, grandfather, and sister drove up from and back to New York just to meet Maggie (with a beautiful teddy bear for Maggie, just like my dad gave me the day I was born!). My mother and sisters decorated our house for us to celebrate our bringing Maggie home. My husband stayed by my and Maggie’s side the whole time during our hospital stay. My sister Megan has been there to answer every single question or concern I have had throughout my whole pregnancy, and especially during these first few weeks of having a baby. My brother and sister are coming to visit all the way from California to meet our little one. My mother in law has put together the most beautiful book of pictures from Maggie’s first few days for us. My sister in law and her boyfriend made a delicious meal for us one of our first nights back home – they cleaned up and everything! (Always a great idea for new parents, I must say). My best friend and her boyfriend did the same! My mother gave up her personal time to stay with me the first week Colin went back to work. My sister Kelly put together a touching and completely wonderful video of Maggie’s first few days (link at the end of the post after the pictures). People have been so generous – more than generous, so it’s not even generous any more, it’s something bigger – a word I don’t have. These acts of kindness have brought me to tears many times – at times, right when they were happening, or at times privately in thinking about them. I am so appreciative – and in my crazy haze of postpartum feelings and emotions – hope each and every one of you know that. I love you all more than you know. (These people have done even more than this, but if I continued on I would have to publish a book on the specific subject of their generosity during the first few weeks of Maggie’s life. I’ve babbled on so long at this point, I don’t even know if anyone is still with me…….)

Maggie has already brought so much joy to people’s lives – Colin and mine for sure, and her grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. It was absolutely delightful to watch Maggie meet her great grandfather George and great grandmother Dot last weekend while we were up in Vermont. Watching the loving expressions on their faces was priceless. I am so happy they got to meet her while she is this small! And her Aunt Jean and cousin Dugan Mae too! (And Maggie met her other great grandparent, the Great Pa while we were in the hospital which was also wonderful).

Maggie is one month today. She loves to sleep on Mom and Dad’s chest. She doesn’t love getting changed. She poops a lot! And sometimes she pees the second her diaper is off (she is tricky!). She loves to nurse, and has been great from the start. She has a tight grip, and her neck is getting stronger and stronger every day. She had a photo shoot with our friend Alissa as well as her grandmother and was very cooperative throughout both. Maggie loves to snooze, swing in her swing, and play on her play mat. We’ve been referring to her as Maggie, Mags, or Colin’s word, Chubbaloots which makes me laugh every time we say it. Maggie likes to take baths, and likes having coconut oil rubbed on her. Mom, Dad, and everyone else who has experienced it, melt when Maggie smiles.

All the clichéd things people say about having a baby are true – it’s amazing, it’s life changing (in the best way), it’s truly a miracle. But you can’t possibly know all of this until you experience it which is part of why it’s so amazing. The second you’re in it – you get it; you’re part of the club.

I write this post with a happy baby sleeping peacefully on my chest, and my husband by my side. That, my friends, is my life these days – and I am truly happy.

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ImageImageImageThe video Kelly made us!

Preparing Our Home And Hearts — 36 weeks!

As I erased the “35” on our chalkboard and drew a big “36” this week, I suddenly experienced a moment of brief panic, followed by extreme excitement. Our little lady is going to be here so soon, and I still can’t believe it. I don’t think I will until I’m in labor (that should make all of this a little more believable!), or maybe not even until I’m holding her in my arms. We shall see soon enough…

What a wild and incredibly awesome journey this has been! I plan to enjoy these last few weeks I have of my pregnancy, and continue to prepare our home, and my heart for our daughter’s arrival.

Mother and Daughter, Self Portrait

Mother and Daughter, Self Portrait

As my due date approaches, I have been thinking of all the things I want to teach my daughter when she is here. There are so.many.things. I want her to know, to see, to feel, to hear, to experience. I can’t wait to share the world with her. Here is what I’ve come up with so far.

To my beautiful baby girl (name TBD!),

Life is not always easy, but boy is it fun! There are so many things I want to tell you about, and I haven’t even met you yet. Here are some of the big things I’ve learned throughout my twenty seven years of life. You will learn these on your own, I’m sure, but know that I am always here to help you through them. I will always be here to celebrate with you, laugh with you, cry with you, hold your hand, give you a hug, or just listen to you.

Here are some of life’s important lessons:

  • Things won’t be handed to you my little darling, especially important things. When you work hard, and are dedicated to something, amazing things will happen. Hard work is key.
  • Sometimes you will have to sacrifice in your life. Sacrifice is not easy (and usually not enjoyable) but if it’s for a worthy cause you will realize that and you do what you need to do.
  • Your father and I will always believe in you. Please believe in us.
  • Loyalty is what our family is all about. We stick together, and we stand up for one another. We are there for each other in good times and in bad just like the marriage vows your father and I recited on our wedding day.
  • One day we hope to give you siblings. You guys will be so important to each other. If your childhood is anything like mine, there WILL be fighting with one another. There will be arguments, roughhousing, stealing of clothes, tattle tailing, and other things that will annoy you. But, you know what? There will also be unconditional love, judgment free zones, laughing, trying on clothes, going on trips, goofing around, asking for advice, sharing words of encouragement, support no matter what/where/when. Siblings are a Godsend and I love all of mine with all my heart. You have many aunts and uncles waiting for you; Aunt Megan, Uncle Matt, Uncle Patrick, Aunt Kelly, Aunt Molly, and Aunt Liz (not to mention the wonderful boyfriends of your aunts – Brian, Nick, and John!) They are wonderful people.
  • You are already lucky enough to have two SUPER AWESOME cousins, Declan and Brian. They live two minutes away from us so that is going to be a lot of fun; you guys are going to be so good for each other.
  • (When you’re old enough!) You may have a crush on someone and it won’t work out. You may fall in love with someone and it won’t work out. But, believe me…that means it wasn’t the perfect relationship for you. That one is still waiting for you; sparks will fly, and your heart will fill so much you will feel like it’s going to burst. That’s the one. That’s how I felt when I first fell in love with your father.
  • Music can change your mood in an instant. For me, James Taylor, Jack Johnson, and John Legend help me relax. Dean Martin helps me cook in the kitchen. Beyonce helps me have fun and dance, and The Band often plays for me while I’m in the shower. The Beatles are always good background music, and Billy Joel always reminds me of where I’m from – New York. Bob Marley makes me feel like I’m lounging under the sun, and Miranda Lambert makes me feel like I could kick anyone’s ass! Dashboard Confessional takes me back to high school, Sublime back to middle school. Etta James makes me feel romantic. Johnny Cash is perfect for driving, and Salt ‘n’ Pepa is good for anything, anytime, anywhere. It’ll be interesting to see what music you will like in your lifetime.
  • You will choose a path in life. At some point, or a few different points, you may feel like something is wrong – you’re at the wrong high school or college, you want to make a career change, you’ve made a big mistake. That’s okay, this is your path. There will always be bumps along the road, but that’s what your support system is for. If you need help navigating, just ask. No one is too good to receive help from others. We all need it sometimes!
  • You may find it difficult choosing a college; there are so many choices. But please know you’ll probably have a blast wherever you go! And I will be home worrying my butt off wondering what the heck you’re getting up to. Your father and I went to college together, we had a lot of fun – we know how it goes. Please behave yourself! Always be smart. “Make good choices” as your Uncle Matt says.
  • In reference to college, your father and I made a whole amazing group of lifelong friends – and I know you will find your own amazing friends. My girlfriends from college are going to be with me the rest of my life; I truly hope you find that as well. Girlfriends are so important in life; you’ll see.
  • Be nice to people. No one likes a snot, or a mean person. Kindness always wins, and that is how I have always tried to live my life. There’s really no point in being mean, or unpleasant. So simplify…just be nice.
  • Laugh as much as you can! Be silly! It’s so wonderful. May you be blessed with a best friend as funny as the one I’ve had for about sixteen years who can crack me up with one look, or just one word. (You’re going to love your Aunt Mary when you meet her).
  • Surround yourself with people who are committed to being around. You don’t need fair weather friends. The good ones will stick with you from nursery for the rest of your life. They will always be there for you, like your Aunt Heather has been there for me.
  • Call your grandparents. Stay in touch. I will help you with this when you are little, but when you are old enough you need to remember this. Your grandparents are such fabulous, generous, incredible people. You will soon see this for yourself. They are going to love you SO much. They already do. They are going to want to hear from you; please be gracious and kind and show them the love they deserve.
  • Talk to me, about anything. I really mean that. I have been blessed with my relationship with my mother (your Nana). We are very close, and I know I can talk to her about anything. It’s always been like this. Please come to me with anything and everything.
  • I may annoy you sometimes. Okay, I WILL definitely annoy you sometimes. But, maybe you can re-read this blog post and realize how much I love you and then pretend I don’t annoy you? Please?
  • Nothing is ever too big, or too bad to handle. If you’re ever feeling really low, know that you will get through it because you are loved by so many people.
  • God has blessed you with a beautiful life. Say your prayers, and remember to thank God. Faith is a good friend to have.
  • Stand up for yourself. You are important, and worth it. Know what you deserve and then go out and get it. If you want something, ask for it. That’s how you’re going to get it.
  • Be honest, and humble.
  • Eliminate stress as much as possible. Believe me on this one. Stress stinks, and it’s often not worth it. Throw it out.
  • Experience life. Don’t be afraid to try new things, to talk to people, to speak up, to defend yourself or someone else, to find your passion, to choose to be happy…you live one life, make it a good one.
  • Be confident, and always believe in yourself. You are amazing!

There is so much more where this came from, but we have time…all the time in the world. I can’t wait to meet you, and we will get there soon. But take your time and don’t feel rushed. I will be patiently waiting with your dad for your arrival.

I will love you always.

Until then,

Mom

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