With each day of being a mom, I fall more and more in love with my sweet girl. A kind of love that I’ve never felt before but one that I now realize my parents always tried to explain to me through words and actions. As I rocked Harper to sleep last night she pressed her cheek against my cheek and I squeezed her a little tighter with tears streaming down my face. Happy tears. I’m so blessed tears. I couldn’t imagine my life without this special baby tears. This is what my mom and dad meant when they said “you’ll understand one day.” Yes, mom and dad, I get it now! I understand what you were trying to tell us when you’d hug us a little tighter and when you would kiss us with such intent. When I kiss Harper it especially reminds me of the kisses my mom gives me. Those kisses that speak volumes in one short exchange. I’m filled with this feeling of hope, wonder and love for this one little person and I find myself thinking about how my parents contained those feelings for all six of us. I’d burst! The other day my dad told me, “I love you to the moon and back” and then proceeded to tell me that I just don’t know how much he loves me. I replied, “I think I have an idea now, dad.”
So with that, I’d like to thank my parents for pouring their heart and soul into my siblings and me. I understand what you were saying to us with each hug, kiss and piece of advice, and I thank you so much for all of that love. I truly believe it’s what has made me into the person I am today and will give me the ability to become the best parent I can be. I love you both to the moon and back! And thanks to what you’ve built for our family, I am able to love my Harper in the same capacity! I feel blessed to have you as my mom and dad, but more importantly, that Harper has you as her Nanny and KJ!
Nanny and Harper
KJ and Harper
My new life as a mommy has come with an abundance of joy, surprises and a lot of learning. It’s been a whirlwind of love and emotions. As I rock my sweet Harper in the middle of the night after a feeding I have a few quiet minutes to think about the wonderful world of caring for a tiny human - of being a mother. Here are my top 10 reasons (so far) why I love being Harper’s mama!
1. Her expressions
Whether or not they are simply reflexive at this point and not made with intention, I adore watching Harper’s sweet facial expressions. From smiling and puckering up to frowning and sticking her tongue out - I love them all! Here’s a lucky shot I got of her flashing one of her precious grins!
2. Sleeping on my chest
My favorite time with Harper is when she falls asleep cuddling up on my chest. To be that close with my daughter and to feel her breathing and sighing is one of the most fulfilling moments of being a new mom.
3. Middle of the night dates
Call me crazy but I appreciate our dates in the middle of the night. We get about 30 minutes of quiet, peaceful bonding time where I can look into her eyes and stare at my beautiful daughter in amazement. Of course it’s not always easy to wake up at 3am but it’s worth it when I am rewarded with uninterrupted cuddle time. :-)
4. Coos and cries
Like her expressions, Harper’s sounds have us mesmerized. She finds a new sound to show off daily and it melts my heart to hear her try them out. Even her cries have a special place in my heart.
On the contrary, I love being able to calm down my precious baby when she is upset. Learning her cries and finding a way to settle her tensed-up body gives me great sense of motherhood. It’s heartbreaking to hear your child cry, and even worse when you aren’t sure what exactly they need or want, so when I’m able to ease her cries it makes my heart smile.
6. Baby rolls
I cannot get enough of Harper’s adorable baby rolls. <3 I shower them with kisses every day! Don’t you want to just cuddle up with her in this picture (umbilical cord and all)?!
7. Bath time
It might not be Harper’s favorite time (although I don’t think she hates them either) but I love bath time! Aside from some quality cute baby nakedness, it’s something that has involved all three of us - Chris, Harper and me. It’s also an opportunity to wrap her up in the most adorable bunny towels!
8. Harper and Hoosier
My two babies :-) I couldn’t have asked for a smoother transition with bringing a baby home to meet our puppy Hoosier. It’s been incredible. Hoosier is so loving and protective of Harper, and Harper accepts the many kisses she gets from her furry sister every day. I love these two with all of my heart.
So she can’t sing with me just yet :-) but one of my favorite things is to sing to Harper. I love watching her recognize my voice and seeing it soothe her during cuddle times, crying times and every other time. Singing to your baby is a powerful tool!
10. My growing family
Seeing Chris with Harper and watching his adoration for her and her comfort in her daddy’s arms is the most satisfying feeling I could experience. It’s an incredibly powerful emotion to share this kind of love with my husband, my daughter, and yes, even our puppy (some of you won’t understand that).
I can go on and on with reasons why being a mother is the greatest job in the world, and why my heart has expanded a million times since Harper came into our lives. Instead, I’ll leave you with a few more moments in pictures of our beautiful baby. :-)
I realize “it’s been awhile” is an understatement when it comes to the last time I updated my blog, but I’m about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life to date so I figure this is the best time to get back at it. Hopefully I’ll find a minute or two as a new mom to jot down a few experiences and lessons learned.
Chris and I are expecting our first child - a little girl. She was scheduled to make her appearance on July 12 so it seems as if she is more into the fashionably late debuts. I’m sure she’ll come as soon as she is ready. Goodness knows Chris and I are ready!! The nursery has been done for weeks now, the car has been packed and we’ve cleaned our house a million times over.
Here’s her nursery:
And we added some butterflies since the above photo:
We’ll add something above the changing table with her name, too! (As soon as it’s decided.)
If you asked me a couple weeks or even a week ago, I would have told you that I was maybe freaking out a little bit. I was quite like a deer in headlights the week of my due date. After nine months of confidence that I was ready for this responsibility, I began questioning myself a little more as the idea of becoming a mom was closer to a reality. Am I really ready to be a mother? Am I ready to give birth? But, I think those were feelings that surfaced since the date I had been counting down to for almost a year was quickly approaching. Now, I feel more ready than ever to take on the best job in the world - to be a mom - with the most amazing man - my husband. We are over the moon with excitement and cannot wait to meet our beautiful daughter.
So, here’s hoping I can keep up with my posts once I have the baby! It might just be an entertaining account of our mission to survive. :-)
This past weekend I ran in support of a cause - one that is very close to my heart for many reasons. On Sunday, the Angus Barn in North Raleigh hosted the 24th annual Walk for Hope to raise awareness and funds for better treatment options for mental illness. (Fun fact: Chris proposed to me during dinner at Angus Barn!)
So now that you’re wondering why I feel so passionate about this cause, let me drag it on a little more by telling you about the race day experience. I beat the sun and woke up that morning at 5:30 so I could leave the house with enough time to get to the shuttle. Unlike most race days, I was hardly prepared. I searched on my phone the night before, while out at a concert I might add, to find out what time the race started, how to get there and what I even needed to bring. Riding to the shuttle pickup that morning I realized that no matter how many races I’ve done - big or small - I still get a stomach full of swarming butterflies. I’m also pretty practiced at fearing the emotion of disappointment in myself.
As soon as I took my seat on the shuttle someone was already asking me how I was doing that morning. It happened to be that I sat down next to Michael, a very nice man with a mental illness. I could guess what it was but it would just be an assumption. I found out that he worked at Angus Barn once a week doing “whatever they needed help with”. He was not running or walking in the race but was going that morning to volunteer. We had a great conversation, and I walked away with a smile and an ache in my heart. Why must bad things happen to good people? When we exited the shuttle bus up the hill to Angus Barn he greeted several other people with hugs and a warming, contagious smile, and I parted ways to find the registration table.
BEFORE THE START
I had an hour before the 10K runners started so I took the time to walk around and look at the various booths being set up. They read “Suicide Survivors” and “UNC Psychiatry”, among others. There were large yellow banners from several of the 24 years the race has been established with headers that read “I Walked for Hope in [Year] For …” with hundreds of reasons why people supported the event. I stood there and read posts like, For my sister who was full of life - RIP, For all those fighting this terrible disease including myself, and Because I want to win this race (and in parenthesis) I won this race!. It was fairly obvious that a sufferer recorded the last post. More testimonials here. Few people had made it to the Angus Barn at this point so I took the time to enjoy the quiet morning and a little “me time”. Since I participated as a part of my company’s team I saw a few colleagues before taking position on the start line, and at 9am we were off and running. Pun intended.
We took off on a significant incline; a hill in true Raleigh form, and about a mile into the race we turned into Umstead State Park. Umstead is gorgeous. We ran mostly on gravel so it wasn’t hard on our feet but there were perfectly timed spots of trail running as well. Autumn-colored trees surrounded us, curving inward above the running path, with a glint of morning sunlight peeking through the leaves. About halfway we circled a sparkling lake that could have been drawn, framed and hung. I remember at one point I was listening to Dax Johnson’s Canon on my iPhone looking up beyond the leaves and into the sunlight, and feeling like I wasn’t running alone. If you see those Nike commercials or ads of determined, fit runners training at the break of dawn in the most breathtaking surroundings, it would have been this day and on this route. Although, I’m sure I was a little more heavy-footed and a little less graceful than the runners I’m referring to. The weather was chilly - barely touching 50 degrees at the start and warming up a little by the end. I was comfortable in my black capri running pants and my black Boston Marathon running jacket. I pushed myself this race - hard. I didn’t have my GPS watch on me this time - just a iPhone app that doesn’t advertise your pace throughout the run - so I knew I had to feel uncomfortable in my speed if I wanted a good time, which is exactly what I did. Toward the end I was breathing so hard that I was self-conscious when I was around other runners, but I kept saying to myself, “No more than 20 minutes to go.” (Or whatever the time was.) Anyone can push themselves for 20 minutes, right? Right. I pushed up and over the last couple of hills and finished strong with a volunteer shouting my time as I crossed the line.
I crossed the finish line around 52 minutes tired and out of breath, but with a better time than I had imagined getting that day. While it’s not near my best pace I’m happy with it considering the hills we faced and the lack of training I was prepared with. Walking back to the booths and festivities I snuck a smile feeling proud of what I’ve accomplished after being so hard on myself before we even began. Race results here!
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
As I mentioned before, this race was important to me. So often you hear of treatment options and charities for cancers and heart diseases, etc., and not frequent enough is there a significant push for mental illnesses. While I also love and support the other charities, I was more than satisfied to see this cause getting attention. Many people who suffer from mental illnesses do just that - suffer. Treatments are rare and criticism is plenty. Not a favorable combination. As my grandmother was passing away she had dementia. We’d visit her in the nursing home and hold her hand, but she wouldn’t know who was holding her hand. I know many people who suffer from this kind of illness and I know each of them face a battle every day. It illuminates my heart that there are events and programs out there working for a better tomorrow.
About to start the Run for Hope! (Taken with Instagram)
My typical blog-posting pace is an entry every few months if I’m lucky, but today you get two posts in the same 24 hours!
With the MLB post-season underway and the Championship Series upon us I am stuck like glue to the TV when the Yankees take the field. For those who aren’t aware my dad was born in the Bronx and experienced a childhood in Jersey, so it’s not too out of the park that I’m a fan of the Bronx Bombers.
Usually around this time of year if the Yankees are playing well and progressing toward the World Series I hear and read a lot about the team’s payroll, which is an argument that I’ve always hated. Why? Because I’m an athlete and have played competitively all my life - and I know better. I’ve never played for money or for fame because of my sport. I grew up playing softball and field hockey, moved onto the collegiate level in field hockey and then turned into a competitive runner. Still, I know that money does not enhance your skill, and it certainly does not give you the push over a slump to get a game-changing hit. For any athlete, you can stand at the plate with $20, $100 or $1 million in front of you and you’d still be going through your mechanics, evaluating your surroundings and blocking out the obstructive noises. Money does not give you a rare power to ignore a pressure-intense at bat or the ability to dive a few inches further to catch a firing line drive. It’s not like they get up to bat or stand in the field saying to themselves - this will be an easy play because of my income. Any athlete knows that. Sure - New York has an incredible payroll and has the ability to pay their players an ungodly salary, but it doesn’t mean that they are a bad team for having that opportunity. They happen to be based in a revenue-thriving city with a baseball tradition that has lived and will live for unseeable lifetimes.
It’s frustrating for any Yankees fan that one of the best is in a slump. But A Rod will always be just that - one of the very best baseball has seen - and just because he is getting paid more than most doesn’t mean he will be able to automatically hit one in the Yankee centerfield benches every time. He is in a slump and he will get out of it. Sports is about way more than money and I’m confident that any professional baseball player would agree; these athletes wouldn’t be where they are and on whatever team they are if they didn’t have the passion, talent and persistance that they do. They are great athletes - really some of the best - and the same is true for every post-season challenger. Sports should be a reason to celebrate and support the team closest to your heart, not tear the other ones down.
On that note - GO YANKEES!
Recently I had an insightful conversation with a person I admire immensely - both professionally and personally. There comes a point in your young life where it’s critical to make decisions on what is important to you in life, what path do you want to take and how are you going to get there. These specific questions didn’t come up in our conversation per say but it led me to really contemplate each one with a keen focus. I’m fortunate to have had a fairly diverse resume in my relatively short time as a working professional. It’s given me the chance to pick and choose what I am passionate about, where I can contribute with my strongest qualities and how I can make a difference.
Growing up, namely as a college student, I was told when choosing a career it’s not an acceptable answer to say I just want to work with people. I understand that because most every job you’re working with people. However, I’m learning now that it just was not a descriptive enough answer. I do want to work with people - certain types of people. I want to surround myself with people who inspire me and who push me to to always do better. I want to collaborate with people who can help me produce an incredible end result, and possibly something that might even change the way people think. It has always been and will always be exceptionally important that I work with people who value the most important relationships in life - family. Those are the softer qualities of where I’d like my life to lead, but the more exciting realization is where and how I plan to do that.
Of course this is just one piece of the large puzzle, but it’s a big one. It’s an exciting feeling to be able to pull my various passions together and have an idea of how my life will shape up. As long as I have my priorities and passions in life in line I will be able to roll with the punches, duck from the curve balls and become a stronger person with every experience.
I’m not sure I could have written a blog post that is more vague than this one - but at least I can end it with a smile on my face and more confidence in my heart. Life is too short not to challenge yourself by finding out why you were put on this earth. What gift were you given and how are you going to use it for the better?