March 20, 2017

The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short

Parenting is hard. Really hard. Just when I think I have a handle on things, I'm quickly reminded that I really don't have a clue. Crosbi and I are butting heads a lot lately. She's testing her boundaries and I'm getting irritated too easily. Sometimes I ask myself, "Why does this have to be so difficult?" And then I remember that I've been entrusted to raise a HUMAN BEING. I'm trying to mold another person who has her own thoughts and ideas and words that she's experimenting with everyday.

We had a hard night recently. She was in a bad mood, choosing words that she knew would hurt me. I took the bait and lashed out at her. It was ugly. I put myself in timeout, locking myself in my bedroom to cool off. She marched up to her room too and slammed the door (how does she know to do this at five?). 

A few minutes later she knocked and slid a note under my door. 


To mom. I love you a lot. You are my best friend. Love you. Love you. Love you. Love you. Love you.

Her note didn't change her consequences, but it did make forgiving her and asking her for forgiveness much easier. I'm thankful she's quick to apologize. I'm even more thankful that God is too. Because I had plenty of apologies myself. 

I'm learning parenting is hard because it forces me to deal with my own weaknesses, especially when I see them thrown in my face. But I'm also learning there's so much grace in it. Kids are quick to learn and they're quick to forgive. I'm hopeful that as long as we can let each other fail and quickly accept each other's apologies, we just might survive these long days and oh so short years.

xoxo

January 13, 2017

Leighton :: Six Months

My baby is six months old! How? Why? I was told it feels like time goes even faster with a second child, but come on. This is crazy.

It almost makes me emotional to write this post. I love my little Leighty-bug so much. So much. It makes me emotional because when I was pregnant, I couldn't wrap my head around having enough love for two children. I really couldn't comprehend two little girls needing me as their mom and having enough of me to give. But man, having a second child has made our lives so full. Nothing turns a day around like a giggling baby. We're all so smitten.


Leighton might look like her sister, but as babies they're quite a bit different. Crosbi was definitely sleeping through the night at six months. This time? Yeah, I've forgotten what sleep is. Is that a thing? I was up three times last night. I haven't had a full night of sleep since I was pregnant. By God's grace I somehow have the energy to make it through the day, but poor Todd, by 9pm I'm done.


She's also taking her sweet time in most things. Crosbi was above the curve in every developmental milestone. She rolled, crawled, walked, and talked well before the books said she should be doing those things. Leighton has rolled over four times. FOUR. It's not that she can't, girl just doesn't want to. She sits up on her own like a champ and her fine motor skills are pretty impressive. She's been picking up her paci (and anything else she sees laying around) and putting it in her mouth for a long time. She's just now starting to scoot backwards when she's on her belly. She's not in any kind of hurry. At first I was concerned, but I truly think now that we're seeing a huge glimpse into her personality. She is so laid back. Nothing really bothers her. She does things in her own time and it's kind of a nice change of pace from her sister who's five going on fifteen.


 I can't believe we're more than halfway to her turning one, but I also can't believe she's just been with us six months. We can't imagine life without her.

Happy six months my sweet Leighton. You sure make life fun.

xoxo


December 28, 2016

Bringing It Back

Happy almost New Year! I've decided to dust off the blog and bring it back to life in 2017. I'm sure the two people who read it (hi JP and Aunt Terry!) will be really excited. Ha!


I've been thinking a lot about the coming year. I haven't chosen a word to help guide my year in a long time, and a word very clearly came to me as this year was coming to an end. In a way, I think the word chose me. I've decided that 2017 will be my year of "authenticity," so my word is 'Authentic.' My prayer is that this word will guide my steps as I navigate the year ahead.

To start, I'm going to really cut back on social media. My goal is to step away from Facebook for the entire year. I'm not going to beat myself up if I find myself mindlessly scrolling, but I'm going to try to keep myself from logging in. I still love Instagram, but I'll limit my time there as well. I want the people who know what is going on in my life to be people who see me face-to-face. And that goes for my friends as well. I want to hear about their lives over coffee and play dates, not over the five inch screen of my iPhone.

I'll turn 35 this year, which feels close to creeping up on 40. I want this year to be the year I feel most at home in my own skin in all areas - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I want to eat good food, exercise more (lots of Pilates and barre - I'm not a runner and I don't like yoga and that's okay). I'm an introvert and a homebody and for most of my adult life I've felt guilty or ashamed of that. I'm not a hermit, but I love being home playing with my girls. I love to work from home and I love decorating our house. Not because I want to show it off, I do it for the three people who share my home with me. If my girls grow up appreciating a cozy, beautiful home, I'm good with that. It's one of the ways I love on my family and there's no need to apologize for it. I'm going to stop saying yes to invitations where my only reason for saying yes is the fear of missing out or because I'm trying to keep up with my extroverted friends. This year will be quality over quantity.

This past year was all sorts of emotional because of the stress of the election. I've seen friends become ex-friends and families at each other over politics. I'm going to be true to who I am and my beliefs and I want to be more involved politically, although I don't quite know what that means, but I also want to be full of grace. I want to love my friends and family well who didn't vote like me. A person isn't identified by their political party and I want to be able to understand where a person is coming from, not judge them. This goes back to why I'm quitting Facebook. I had to unfollow friends and old colleagues because of their political rants, not because I didn't care about their opinions, but because I wanted to like them in spite of their opinions. It's amazing how an unfollow created an abundance of grace. I immediately felt love for those people when my interaction with them was in person and not behind a screen.

This year I hope to be my most authentic self. I have nobody to impress. I'm doing work I love. I adore my family and I have friends that mean the world to me. Why would I want to try to live my life in a way that looks any different? I wish I had asked myself that question ten years ago. I'm tired of pretending I'm cool or that the number of friends I have is more important than the depth of the friendships. My girls don't need to go to the best school in the area. Heck, Crosbi can already read, so I think we're going to do okay wherever she is. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm boring and go to bed early, but when I'm around the people I love, I have all I need.

This month I had some great practice being authentic and it opened my eyes to how I've been doing it wrong all these years. A few weeks ago we hosted about 25 of our neighbors for our neighborhood's annual Christmas progressive dinner. I wanted my house to look perfect, I wanted to make amazing food from scratch, and I wanted to be the perfect host. I bought cute wrapping paper in hopes that our Christmas presents looked Pinterest-worthy under our tree. Leading up to the dinner, our schedules became crazy. Crosbi and Leighton were both fighting colds and I could barely make it to the store. The day of the party none of the gifts were wrapped, it was all I could do to get the floors swept and I hadn't bought all the things I needed to make my elaborate meals. I looked around and for a split second thought if I rolled up my sleeves and got to work I could get it all done. But instead I realized I couldn't do it and that I didn't want to do it. I wanted to be true to me and that meant I had to know my limits. So I shoved all the gifts under my bed, I picked up the house the best I could, and we bought premade frozen appetizers for our guests. And you know what? We had so much fun that night. I felt like I was living Shauna Niequist's theme of "present over perfect" and fully understood that she was onto something.

So here's to 2017 and a life lived authentically. To being proud of my family and my work without needing to boast about either one on social media. To saying no when saying yes will just make me feel exhausted. To intentional time with my girls, especially since Crosbi starts Kindergarten in the fall. To deep friendships, not a busy calendar. To more time in God's word. More time taking care of myself and most importantly, more time seeing people for who they really are, not what a few sentences on a computer screen might say about them (or what others might say about them). To being truly authentic.

Aaaaaaand, to writing more about my girls because man I love to go back and read posts about my babies.

Happy New Year!

xoxo




August 15, 2016

Leighton :: One Month

It's only fair that I attempt to regularly update life with a new baby. I don't want to hear "poor second child" the rest of my life. Ha! 


I have to admit, having a baby for the second time feels so much easier than it did the first time around. I don't know if it's because I'm much more confident or if Leighton is just incredibly easy, but we found our groove really quickly. She's a great eater, a good sleeper, and rarely if ever cries. I could have described Crosbi the same way as a newborn, but I was so overwhelmed by the major life change that I didn't realize how good I had it. Now that I have a handle on caring for a baby, I'm like give me all the babies! Except that we're done having babies. For real.


Leighton will be seven weeks old tomorrow, so before I forget, I wanted to capture her first month.


At her two week appointment, she weighed in at 9.2 pounds, nearly two pounds up from her birth weight and about an inch taller. 

At over six weeks we're starting to see smiles more regularly. I can't think of many things better than baby smiles.

Crosbi is obsessed with her. Obsessed. Driving us all crazy obsessed. She wants to hold her all day long. She's constantly about an inch from her sister's face and feels the need to wake her up the moment she falls asleep. Thankfully Leighton doesn't mind a bit. 


It's been a busy month. We took our first road trip to Missouri where Leighton met her great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. She saw her first baseball game (bad idea), but my sister and I got a good laugh out of it when both of our babies cried the whole way home. She went to her first cookout at the creek on Todd's family farm, and we even took her to the county fair. Quite a lot for a baby. We may try to slow it down a bit. 


At a month old, it appears that she really likes... to be held or cuddled + her sister + bath time + eating + naps.


While not super exciting just yet, Leighton has stolen our hearts. We're all smitten, and as cliche as it sounds, we just can't imagine life without her. We're so thankful she's here!



 

July 4, 2016

She's Here! Leighton's Birth Story

I'm dusting off the ole' blog to share the birth story of our newest addition, Leighton Mabrey Stepp. She came fast and furious on Monday, June 28th at 1:28pm, weighing in at 7 pounds 6 ounces and 20 inches long.


Leighton's birth was completely different from Crosbi's and possibly slightly controversial in that I had an elective induction. I read many pregnancy forums where women basically said it was the worst possible thing you could do to your baby. That makes a person feel great. But I knew early on that I wanted to induce and felt incredible peace about my decision throughout my pregnancy. I had several reasons for my choice:

*I knew for sure I didn't want to go past 40 weeks. Crosbi was five days late and nearly nine pounds, and the last two weeks of my pregnancy were so miserable. I was in so much pain and not sleeping at all. I didn't want to put my family through that again. We induced the day before my due date.

*We live 45 minutes away from my hospital with no traffic. Second babies are known to come quick (which Leighton did!) and I was not about to deliver her on the side of the road. 

*Our closest family members are a good eight hours away. My mom is even further in North Carolina and I really wanted to have a plan in place for Crosbi. Leighton's due date was so close to July 4th that I was panicking a bit that I would go into labor over the holiday weekend when friends are traveling or have other plans and getting to Nashville could be difficult with holiday drivers on the road or back-ups at airports.

*Lastly, I was lucky enough to experience a "spontaneous" birth with Crosbi. My water broke at home, I had contractions in the car on the way to the hospital and was able to have a completely normal vaginal birth. My doctor was confident that my induction would be smooth since it was by second baby. I wouldn't have even considered it if it was my first (as you may remember with Crosbi).


Back to the story...at 5:00am, Todd and I packed the car, kissed our sleeping Crosbi goodbye, and made our way to the hospital. I will admit that even though I was confident in wanting to induce, I was anxious on the way to the hospital. I second guessed my decision because it felt so strange to know I would be having a baby that day but not feeling any labor symptoms at all. 


At 8am I was checked in and the nurse started my IV and pitocin. The IV may have been the worst part of my entire labor. The nurse blew a vein in my hand (ouch) and had to redo it in my arm. My arm throbbed the entire day. By 10am my contractions were regular but manageable. Todd encouraged me to go ahead and get my epidural so I could sleep, but I was nervous because I wasn't in any real pain yet. I went ahead and agreed to the epidural so that I could rest. While I don't regret getting it early (as you'll see later), the epidural was pretty painful. Because I wasn't having strong contractions, I could feel everything. I was so distracted with pain during Crosbi's birth that I didn't even feel the needle. Not the case this time.


Once the epidural was in place, the doctor put in my catheter and checked me. I was dilated 4 centimeters. An hour later (yes, just an hour!), I asked that my epidural be checked because I could feel the catheter and it was making me uncomfortable. Little did I know that it wasn't the catheter, it was the baby. I was dilated to a nine and the nurse was calling for my doctor. I will never forget the look Todd gave me when the nurse said it was time to push. We were thinking we would have hours before it was time. My doctor arrived and with one push (more like one and a half) Leighton was here. Her incredible quick delivery was such an answer to prayer and affirmation that we made the right decision for her birth. My labor was so quick that there is a good chance I wouldn't have made it to the hospital in time for not just the epidural, but possibly her birth. In an hour I went from 4 centimeters to holding my daughter. It's still surreal to me!


We spent the next few days recovering at the hospital. Leighton gave us a couple of choking scares and turned blue twice. I was a mess both times. The doctor's think it was due to her quick delivery and not having a chance to get the amniotic fluid out of her system. The pediatrician encouraged us to stay an extra night to monitor her, and thankfully she was much better by the third day and we headed home. 


We are so obsessed with our newest family member. My fears of not being able to love two, although real, were unnecessary. I'm head over heels and seeing Crosbi with her sister is a joy I can't explain. She completes our family in the best way.

Welcome to the world, Leighton Mabrey. You are so loved.