Thursday, August 9, 2018

four!

Millie celebrated her FOURTH birthday on Sunday, which means it's time for a (rare and becoming rarer still) blog update!

The last quarter of Age 3 was a little rougher than we've been used to...I know, I know. It's probably about time we struggle a little, I guess. She's been a textbook "easy baby" (and toddler) since about the day she was born, so I'm sure we were due for a last minute Threenager treatment, but phew!! It was a doozy!! ;) Now that she's four, I expect an immediate return to her previously angelic, happy-go-lucky disposition. Like today. Now. Got it, Millie???!


(Also, I tell myself that Matt and I are at least partially to blame for her sudden emotional imbalance. Since March, she's had to change schools twice, we've packed up/listed/sold/packed up more/moved from our old house, been constantly stressed about building the new house, lived in a semi-disheveled state in my in-laws' basement for two months, Matt changed jobs and has had to travel more...it's bound to be a lot for her poor little brain and heart to manage!! We are hopeful that once we finally move into our new house (next week, hopefully?!?!?!) things will feel more settled and peaceful for her again.)



But it isn't all bad. Her moods and tantrums come and go, and most of the time she is SO much fun! Our girl is full of imagination and stories, "great ideas!!" (always spoken of with wide eyes and a pointer finger sticking up like she just solved a mystery) and plans. She loves adventures (ideal adventures include going to doughnut shops, the library, or a playground) and is a surprisingly helpful "cooker girl" (kitchen helper)! Her passion for unicorns is still fiery, and she loves pretending to be any kind of animal. 

(Hot parenting tip Matt and I have discovered: she will do basically anything (including whatever thing she's currently fighting SO HARD AGAINST) as long as you pretend that she's a dog and ask her to do it. I know. Genius. "Millie, let's go brush your teeth, okay?" "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO NEVER!!!! I WILL NEVER DO THAT!!! YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND AND I AM NEVER, EVER GOING TO BRUSH MY TEEEEEETH!!!!" (writhing on the floor, running to hide behind a couch) Okay. Wait two seconds. Make your voice more high pitched and try this: "Little doggie!!!! Let's put on your collar (pretend to snap a collar around her neck) and go to the bathroom to brush your doggie teeth!!! Come on!!" Walk a few steps and pretend to hold her leash. She will immediately drop down on all fours and start panting and happily scamper after you to the bathroom. If she doesn't hop up onto the stool, say "Doggie, get on your stool so you can get your doggie treat!!"...bam. She's brushing teeth. PARENTING GENIUS.) 

In one of the many moving boxes that have ruled our lives for the past 5 months
She constantly surprises me with how aware and smart she is. I love watching her develop emotionally, too (well, not the part that involves frustrations and tantrums, but the other parts!)...in the last few weeks I've noticed her expressing genuine, heartfelt gratitude. On Saturday, while she napped, I set up some decorations for her birthday dinner- nothing huge, just a tablecloth, a cute little cupcake display thing, some unicorn plates (everything was unicorn themed, natch), balloons, etc. When she woke up and saw it, she gasped and oooohed and ahhhhed over everything. Then she said "Mommy, did you DO this for me??!" and I said yes. "THANK you, Mommy!! It is so beautiful and I love it so much!!!" and gave me the biggest hug. Y'ALL!!!!!! I basically melted. She's always been quick with a "thank you!" for whoever hands her a sticker at the Target check-out, or little things like that...but this felt so next-level! Then the other morning I showed her a (unicorn) dress I'd bought her the night before after she went to bed. I knew she'd love the dress, and she did. Then she said "how many dollars did you have to give them, Mommy??" "What?" "At the store, to buy my dress. How many monies did you give them?" "Oh! Eight dollars," I told her. "WOW, Mommy. That's a lot of dollars. THANK you, Mommy!!! I really love this dress!!"

Again, I will buy you a dress every damn day if you react like that, so keep it up, doll.


She started pre-k last week at our neighborhood elementary school. So far she has LOVED it and I can't lie- I love it too. I have been dying to be a "school mom" for like 20 years, I think. I am so excited about her school and getting more involved with our community and getting to know people that actually live in our little town...I have my first PTO meeting next week!!

Unicorn dress, unicorn backpack, mermaid lunchbox. Check, check, check, the gang's all here!


She didn't even shed a tear that first morning- unlike her mama!! She's on the very young side of her grade, but we felt like she was ready, and so far she's proving us right. She is most enthusiastic about "playing centers" and eating in the "restaurant" at lunch time! Her teacher says she's been doing well and is a MOST enthusiastic story-listener...and I expected nothing less! ;) That girl will listen to stories all day if you let her!


Stats wise, she wears 4T clothes and is roughly 38 pounds and 40 inches tall, if our home scale and measuring tape can be trusted! Her four-year check-up isn't until the end of the month. She wears a size 9 or 10 shoe. She would happily exist on fruit and cereal bars alone, but isn't actually a picky eater...she just wants to beg for those things first, before she eats anything else. She sleeps from about 8:45 p.m.-7:00 a.m. and still takes a nap for usually an hour or so during the day. She is still rear-facing in her car seat, and rather committed to it- after riding forward-facing in the seat in her grandmother's car, she informed me that "it's not right and it doesn't feel so comfy!!" so I'm glad we're all on the same page about that still!!! 

I'm so proud (and impressed!) by how brave and confident she is. She is unafraid to speak up for herself, to ask for help when she needs it (example: will stop any waiter in a restaurant if she needs a spoon/glass of water/straw and ask them to help her before Matt and I can even stop her), or to approach a child and introduce herself. Last night she started dance classes (ballet and tap!!! SO EXCITING!!!) and within five minutes in the waiting room, she'd found another little girl about her size wearing a leotard, ran over to her, and said "My name is Millie!! What is your name?" and within another 3o seconds, they were holding hands and twirling around together. 


She is rarely intimidated by anyone and seems to intuitively understand that any adult she speaks to will respond to her, usually with a smile. No lie, we get free food/stuff EVERYWHERE WE GO just because this bubbly little doll speaks so enthusiastically to whoever is working there. Charismatic barely even starts to describe her ("the charisma award" is actually what she earned in her daycare end-of-year awards ceremony!!), and she knows how to work it to her advantage!! (Although she doesn't quite understand when her charm doesn't work a second time. A few months ago we ate at a restaurant right next to our new house, where we regularly dine. She was extra bubbly that night and the waiter brought us free sopapillas and ice cream at the end of our meal- normally we never order dessert, so Millie found this shockingly wonderful, especially since he TOLD us/her it was because she was so sweet and had such nice manners. So then we ate there a few weeks later, and she absolutely remembered what had happened last time...well, we didn't get free dessert this time. She was appalled. HA. "Wasn't I nice, Mommy??!" Well, yes. But you don't free stuff EVERY TIME you're nice, babe!! But seriously, she does get it more often than I feel is typical, hahaha. Must be nice to be so precious!)


So she's four now- "four and fabulous," as she would tell you. (I said that once. She hasn't forgotten and that's what she says anytime anyone asks how old she is.) It blows my mind how quickly time passes. I am so excited for the year ahead, for settling into our new house and school and routine. As always, I count myself the luckiest person in the world for the privilege of being this girl's mama. Even when it gets a little rough, it's still the greatest job in the world.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

currently

I know you're just beside yourself wondering exactly what I'm doing/liking/thinking right now, so let's dive right into those deep topics, shall we? Also, funny that the last time I did one of these posts was almost exactly a year ago

Unrelated picture from this morning. Millie was pretending to be a mean witch (hence the broom...how does she even know that witches ride on brooms?!). Isn't she terrifying?
Listening...to my Broadway station on Pandora. That's been a constant for the last few months. It mostly consists of songs from Hamilton, Dear Evan Hanson, The Greatest Showman, and Wicked. I'm not complaining!

Eating...too much. Ugh. Last night we made a super tasty Garlicky Kale and Ricotta Pizza, though, and I highly recommend. We have leftovers for tonight and I'm basically giddy thinking about it, ha! I believe this was Millie's first experience with ricotta cheese and she liked it, but kept poking it and asking what it was (it is an interesting texture when it's been baked). I told her it was "cloud cheese" and that seemed to make sense and sound delicious enough for her. Sometimes I laugh at the dumb 'parent things' I say...but can't argue with the results, right?!

Drinking...nothing exciting, coffee at the moment. Lately Matt and I are obsessed with the Kroger La Croix knock-off seltzer water, though- their Raspberry and Blackberry Citrus (those are two different flavors, fyi) flavors are amazing!! 

Wearing...boring work clothes, and when I'm at home I change into workout clothes. I like to think that if I'm wearing workout clothes, I might workout. That works about half the time, so...win? I did order a new pair of sandals yesterday, though- another pair of my beloved semi-fashionable orthotics by Vionic!! And also I'm cracking up because in my post one year ago (I'm referring to it for the categories) I was also singing the praises of Vionics. What can I say. I'm consistent? And I have bad feet! 

Feeling...excited about our new house! They poured the foundation yesterday!!!! (please imagine all of the praise hand emoji here.) 
This is for sure the most exciting picture I've ever shared, right?
Everyone has said that once the foundation is poured, things move really quickly, and so that has me super jazzed! Now that there is a foundation we can get a much better visualization of the 'lay of the land.' Our lot is VERY small (our current house is on an acre; our new house is roughly .19 acre!!!) and the house's footprint is fairly large, so we will have a VERY VERY small yard...but it just helps to be able to see it. :) 

Wanting...oh, you know. I'm moving to a new house. With twice as much square footage as our current house. I can think of MORE than a few things I want to buy!!! On the top of my list is a new outside dining set (this is the one we plan to get), bar stools for the kitchen island (I'm thinking these), a new living room rug (I change my mind every day about what I want here, ugh), some entryway furniture...trust me, the list is long!!! 

Enjoying...everything! It's fun to have a fun project (the new house) to think about and plan for, Millie is generally super fun right now...it's all good!!

Organizing her rock collection is an ongoing project...so many rocks, so little time, right?!
(the following category didn't appear on my last 'currently' list, but I feel the need to add it now!!)

Watching...GUYS. You know. Just a little-known show called Downton Abbey, you've prob never heard of it...hahaha. You know I love to be super behind the times when it comes to pop culture stuff, so that's why I waited until last weekend to watch a single episode of Downton. But it's SO GOOD!! I finished Season One last night and can't wait to keep going! If you've been a long-time Downton holdout like I was, I encourage you to go ahead and give in. It's on Amazon Prime, so no excuses.

Friday, May 4, 2018

life lately

Ohhh man. It's been a minute, but let's just jump right in, shall we??

I'm still here (as in, in life...not so much in the blog world, haha) and life is good! Let's start off with our Millie girl, because that's who we all really care about, right?

Millie is 3.5, closing in on 4, and basically the greatest human in the history of the world. Also, she is 3.5 and totally normal, so that means she has a gift for being infuriating, obnoxious, and terrible, but I prefer to not think about those moments (...hours...). We'll focus on the positive for this rare blog update. ;)


She loves unicorns, mermaids ("I love mermaids, but I love unicorns the MOST, Mommy! And I love lions and dinosaurs and bad guys, but I still love unicorns the MOST."), and anything magical. 
She lives for going to the grocery store to visit this inflatable unicorn. And yes, I'm probably going to buy it for her for her birthday, because a) I am a sucker, and b) it will really complete my home decor.
She 100% believes she can do magic (with one of her many wands, of course), and most mornings, after Daddy leaves for work, she points her wand out the window and does a spell to make Daddy's hair turn purple/green/sparkly/whatever so that it "surpwises him in the mirror." It's her favorite thing. But then we always do another spell to turn it back brown later, so it's all fine. She loves doing ballet and yoga, and more than that, pretending she's the ballet and/or yoga teacher. (Hot Tip: if your kids enjoy storytelling at all, you need to check out Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube or Amazon Prime...it's SUCH fun story-based yoga, Millie is obsessed!!)


She is playing on a little soccer team this spring. It's the most precious thing ever. Matt is the coach. Again- precious. My gal has not the foggiest idea what she's supposed to be doing out there, but she generally runs around and has a good time, and she sure looks cute, so I consider the season a success. She will be quick to inform you that she prefers yoga, though.



(Also-  I have no idea where the obsession with yoga came from. I go to yoga or do it at home on rare occasion and hardly ever talk about it. I only started letting her watch Cosmic Kids Yoga after she'd been 'playing yoga' for several weeks and it occurred to me to turn that on, haha.)


She is 100% a mama's girl right now (annnnd maybe for the last year, who knows) and generally ONLY wants to do anything with/for me. It's wonderful and exhausting, as I'm sure many of you can relate to, haha. She transitions easily and does just fine at school, in the church nursery, with her grandparents, etc., but if I'm around, I'm the only one she wants anything to do with, generally. In her words, "you my BEST FRIEND, Mama. I ONLY LOVE YOU THE MOST. You my best friend FOREVER and even if I not listening, you STILL LOVE ME, and even if I REALLY REALLY BAD, you STILL LOVE ME!!!!!"...she's got that down right. But she frequently brings up the part about how "even when I ______ (insert naughty thing she's currently doing), you STILL LOVE ME!" which is definitely true BUT ALSO PLEASE STOP DOING OBNOXIOUS THINGS THANKS.


We went skating last weekend and she spent the whole time grinning up at us, screaming "this is the best day of my whole life!!!! This is the most fun EVERRRR!!!!" and I had to agree. It might have been the best day ever. Slash I might need to buy a skating rink or something. 


She has been at the same daycare with the same little group of buddies since she was a little over a year old, but changes are on the horizon. She got a spot in our neighborhood elementary school pre-k program for next school year (those are lottery spots in Georgia- pre-k isn't required and there are far fewer spots than kids, so you enter an open lottery for the spaces) which we are thrilled about. We found another daycare near the school where she can go for after-school (and the millions of no-school days that public schools seem to take...fall break, fall break 2, a month of Christmas break, twelve additional winter/early spring/mid spring breaks, spring break, late spring break, SUMMER BREAK, oh and teacher workdays every other Tuesday, etc....just kidding, but seriously, it is a lot compared to daycare, hahaha). I am so thankful for how things seem to be working out, but in order to secure a spot at the daycare for after-school (I'm not really interested in having her at the school's after-school program with such a huge number/variety of ages of kids), I had to enroll her for their summer program...so she will be starting there in just a few weeks. I know it will be good, and it'll be nice for her to meet some kids that she will actually see at her big school (she's always gone to daycare in Athens, where Matt and I work, but no other kids there will go to elem school out where we live)...but man, it's gonna be tough to leave the school we've loved so much. She can't really comprehend not seeing her buds every day, even though she tells me she will make NEW BEST FRIENDS, and I know she will. So that's a good but maybe-tough change for the near future.

Our biggest Life Update (if you don't happen to follow me elsewhere on social media, haha) is that we are moving! We're "building" a house VERY near our current house and right across from Millie's future elementary school, so no great distances are being traversed, but it's still an exciting adventure! "Building" warrants quotation marks because we aren't custom building...we just bought a lot in a neighborhood under development before they had started building on that particular lot. We got to pick the house plan (out of like three) and some basic finishes and colors, etc, but no BIG decisions about where the windows should be or how the kitchen should be oriented. So..."building." Ha. So far in the 2.5 months we've been under contract on the house all they've managed to do is build a frame for the foundation. And dig the utilities. Not even a foundation yet. It's very slow and boring and disappointing, to be honest, haha. I eagerly await the day there are boards or walls or basically anything that remotely resembles a house. In theory we will be moving there in mid-July, but given the current pace of work...that may be July of 2023 or something.

Our "new house." Very exciting. 

Our current house went under contract very quickly (we had our first offer about 8 hours after it went on the market!!) and has been mostly a smooth process, but still a giant headache, haha. We will close on our current house in mid-June and move into my in-laws' basement until our new house is ready. Good times ahead!

I guess that's about it. I spend my spare time reading and thinking about packing (not ACTUALLY packing too much), so who has time for blogging with all that going on? Ha. As always, catch me on Instagram for Millie in Real Time...she is a mess and well worth seeing more than once every 4 months when I get around to blogging, haha! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

full circle

It's been interesting over the last 3.5 years watching things come "full circle"- in my mind, this is the concept of when something that was once painful comes around again and is redeemed- no longer painful. Throughout the years of infertility and waiting, there were plenty of things that became painful triggers for sadness and grief- but Millie's presence has redeemed them one by one. "Full circle" things tend to be things that are cyclical, that roll around every so often on a schedule, and therefore can accumulate memories and expectations. The first time the event occurs post-trauma (and in my case, the trauma was the years of infertility, waiting, and our failed adoption), I find myself remembering the hurt of the event previously, but now having Millie to make new memories that hopefully wash away the pain previously associated with the day.

Some things came full circle quickly: most holidays, for one. Each pre-Millie Christmas hurt. Each was a reminder that another year had gone by, that this was the Christmas where I was supposed to have a baby...each brought another social media feed full of other people with their happy kids and cute babies. But once Millie was born and a few short months later Christmas rolled around- it just wasn't painful. It was life as I'd thought it should be. The life I'd hoped for. Christmas came full circle.


Christmas 2017. Completely perfect, because she got the Paw Patrol bath toys she'd been religiously begging for all month!

Some things took longer. Her birthday, to be honest. In some ways, her first birthday was difficult- while it was absolutely the anniversary of her birth and her life with us, it was also the anniversary of her losing her birth mother. I felt that. I mourned that when it happened, and I remembered it on her first birthday. It was the anniversary of the enormous, nearly overwhelming stress that covered me during Millie's first few weeks of life, as we waited to pass through each (what felt) excruciatingly slow phase of her adoption to pass and finalize. The stress of those days was pretty damn fresh, even a year later. And so while obviously there were many things to be joyful for and celebrate on her first birthday, I don't really feel like the concept of "hooray, baby's birthday!" was really redeemed until her second birthday. By then, the stressful memories were overwhelmed by the joyful ones and I could really celebrate and eat cupcakes with the reckless abandon one would expect me to. :)


Look at that cute little two-year-old Millie!!!


As we're well into our fourth year with our beloved girl now, most things feel like they've come full circle to me. Name a holiday, any holiday!, and my gut reaction will probably be happiness and excitement. (Whereas in, say 2013, you could say "St. Patrick's Day" and I would get teary because the previous year on St. Patrick's Day I'd just known that next St. P's day I was going to have a baby to dress in green, and now I didn't, and therefore St. P's Day is a big bummer...that's kinda how it worked for me.) I have happy memories of every holiday from the past few years, and excitement and high expectations for happy ones to come. Holidays are happy again. Full circle.

So it's kind of fun and exciting when I find a thing roll around that hasn't yet had the chance to come full circle. I'd kinda thought I'd gone through them all already. But the other day I realized that another one (our last one?) was coming: the Winter Olympics.

You can laugh, but it's true! I love the Olympics, both Summer and Winter. I believe this is well-documented here, haha. But our last Winter Olympics was in February 2014. A few short months after the excruciating loss of our first maybe-baby, and before we knew about Millie (although it should be stated that she was probably an adorable little fetus with lots of opinions hanging out in Mama J's tummy at this point). Although my personal involvement with the Olympics is limited to sitting on a sofa and watching them on TV, I still remember the pain and sadness I felt while watching them last time. It's like this dark cloud that covers my memories of hours on the couch watching other people twirl and speed across ice and do amazing things. (Although I would be remiss not to mention that I do have SOME happy memories of the 2014 Olympics- mainly when we happened to be in Texas for the weekend and stayed with the Joiners and watched the Olympics with them!) 

I remember during the summer 2016 games how redemptive it felt to watch them with Millie sitting in my lap. She didn't know what was going on, but I remembered the previous games and just noted the supreme differences in my life from 2012 to 2016. How much greater the joy. It was wonderful. And now I get to do it again- wipe away just a few more less-than-stellar memories and replace them with joy.

And joy it shall be. If you keep up with me on Instagram stories or Facebook, you might have noticed that Millie is SUPER EXCITED about figure skating these days. She is ALL IN! 


Behold one of our (many) magnificent lifts.
Her current passion is having us find old Olympic figure skating videos on YouTube. She will watch for two seconds before shrieking "WE DO DAT MOVE!!!! PICK ME UP!!! I NEED TO DO DAT!!!" Matt and I have to take turns being her partner, and we're frequently scolded because we aren't as amazing as the people on TV, but we do our best. I mean, we've lived in Georgia our whole lives. Gonna have to lower those expectations, skating snob.



My favorite is when she's taking a break from her skating and she watches the Olympians, she'll point to the female skater and say "dat's me," and point to the male and say "dat's Daddy." ALL THE HEART EYES.

Oh, my other favorite is how she requests to watch the skating. "Mama, we turn on da TV and watch da skaters so I can DO MY MOVES!!! I need to do my MOVES!"

Over the weekend we were playing outside and Millie was getting some toys from the garage. She noticed my dusty Rollerblades shoved back on a shelf and exclaimed "we have ICE SKATES!?!?!?!" with lots of excitement and wonder in her voice. I pulled them out and explained that they were like ice skates for people that don't have ice. Obviously she demanded that I put them on, so I did, and I very gingerly shuffled around the driveway for a minute. She looks at me, dead-pan. "Show me your MOVES, Mama!"

Ummm...I'm 35 and really, really out of shape. I am likely to perish just standing here on wheels. These are all the moves I've got, sistah.

"Dat not amazing. Can you twirl?"

Do you wanna spend the weekend in the ER with me??

She turns away from me, done with these shenanigans.

"Daddy, where YOU ice skates? Show me you moves!"


She. Is. A. Mess. A really cute mess.

I know I've said it a thousand times, but every minute with this girl is a gift. To be sure, some of the moments are less enjoyable than others, but still- such a gift. The joy she brings, the life she restores to the parts of me that felt dead...I will never get over it. She can diss my skating skills all day long, I don't care- this babe just keeps on filling the world with light, and I cannot get enough.