Monthly Archives: May 2013

Memorial Day memories

This past weekend, we celebrated Memorial Day with my family at Cedar Point. With family from Virginia, grandparents who prefer not to travel too far from home, and busy work schedules, a four-day weekend was the perfect getaway.

The view from our small cottage on the lake was beautiful; another reminder of why Ohio is such a great place to live. We ate lots of good food, enjoyed a day in the park, and celebrated Bridget’s birthday in low-key fashion which is exactly what we wanted.

I also learned some facts about myself and the world’s top amusement park. For your reading pleasure, here goes…

1) Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer in Ohio and Cedar Point goers won’t let anything get in the way of it. The high for the weekend was 64 degrees, yet the resort pool was packed, people were sun bathing at Soak City, and short shorts were in full bloom. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony that Floridians bundle up in winter gear at that temperature, while Ohioans break out the swim suits and flip flops.

2) We enjoyed a few hours at the park sans Bridget (thank you, Grams!), and rode all the notable roller coasters, including this year’s newest, The Gatekeeper. Although I enjoyed the rides, I can’t deny that they made me feel old. I felt shaken, uneasy, and achy after a day full of riding. Bummer, dude!

3) Just because you have a child doesn’t make the Kiddie Kingdom an entertainment home run. We were certain Bridget would love it, but as it ended up, we were wrong. There were few rides she could ride, and she didn’t much enjoy the others. We achieved about 30 seconds on the merry-go-round until she was done and made sure all our fellow passengers knew it. She managed the train but only because we distracted her with food for the duration of the ride. Maybe next year.

3) I will not personally buy one, but no longer will I judge the parents who put a leash on their kid.

4) Cedar Point delivers prime people watching. When you have an hour or more in line for a ride, it’s the best way to pass time. At one point, Brian looked at me and said, “This is going to be a long wait…everyone around us is normal.”

5) I am out of shape. As guests of the park resort, we got early admission, so we were on a limited time budget with a lot of ground to cover. We walked and ran several miles that day, and I woke up the next morning sore and tired. I must get back into some form of shape this summer. I simply must.

6) Last but not least, spending a weekend with my family, disconnected from phone and email, properly kicked off what I hope to be an unforgettable summer. And I have our service men and women, past and present, to thank for that (oh, and my mom…thanks, Mom!).

Happy belated Memorial Day and “summer” from our family to yours!

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Bridget’s 1st birthday photo shoot: Part 1

For Bridget’s 1st birthday, I opted to take her photos myself for two reasons:

1) While I know a professional photographer would have captured her at age 1 much better than I could, I know my daughter well and the chance of her sitting still with a cute photo prop and a big flower headband was unlikely. I couldn’t risk the few hundred dollars if she chose not to cooperate.

2) I’ve been patiently waiting for my next “photographer” gig and now that the weather has finally broken (or should I say hopefully?), yesterday was the perfect time.

I literally took 387 photos yesterday (thank you, fancy camera settings!), and narrowed it down to a few. Here is a peek at the keepers.

This rocking chair is a gift from Bridget’s grandma and grandpa L. With 11 grandkids, they’ve established a tradition of buying a real oak rocking chair for each one on their 1st birthday. Bridget loves climbing in and out of it. The backdrop is in our backyard in front of our neighbor’s shed. I’ve never been so happy at their lack of lawn care.

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There’s just something about these two pictures that I love. So innocent and real.

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And then my favorite…my sweet blue-eyed, bald Bridget bear.

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Happy 1st birthday, Bridget bear!

One year ago, we welcomed our Bridget bear into the world. Part of me can’t believe it’s already been a year, and the other part can barely remember life before her.

This first year was packed with milestones. Each week and month brought a new skill or personality trait: another glimpse into our little girl. 

I’ll remember the excitement when she first rolled over, the joy of her baptism, watching her experience her first holidays, and those unforgettable wobbly first steps. What I also want to remember are the little things; those things that made up our days with Bridget in her first year.

The thrill of knocking over the tower of blocks.

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The funny face at the first taste of solid food.

The awe of the Christmas tree lights.

The toothy grin.

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The “surfing” motion when she first learned to stand. 

The simple and beautiful sight of her sleeping.

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The first time she smiled.

Playing peek-a-boo around the dining room table.

The long nights and early mornings spent rocking her to sleep.

When she picks up the phone and yells “hello” (or her version of “hello”).

When she puts her arm up to be picked up.

Bath time fun.

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The endless quest for my cellphone. 

The fascination with the ceiling fan.

That moment of panic when she first stood up in her crib.

The restful feeling when she first slept through the night. 

The comfort of her head on my shoulder and arms wrapped around mine.

The giggle when I spray her with the rubber ducky bath toy.

When she learned to play peekaboo with the curtains.

The relief I felt when she finished her first bottle one week before I went back to work.

The clumsy clap.

The great big smile when Dad walks in the room.

The look back when she’s into something she shouldn’t be.

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The enthusiastic crawl to me when I picked her up from Miss Denise’s house.

The ornery smile when I open the car door to get her out.

The fish face she makes while eating.

Her baby butt (weird, I know, but it’s just too cute!).

The endless laps around the house.

The rosy cheeks and big blue eyes.

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The small patch of hair on her otherwise bald and adorable head.

The could- never-get-old “firsts” for everything.

The excitement of driving to pick her up at the end of the workday.

The dozen kisses I steal before I leave in the morning. And then fighting the urge to come back and do it again.

The persistence to climb the stairs. Over and over again.

Stroller rides.

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Chasing the ball around the house because whenever she reaches for it, she pushes it further away.

Her giggles.

The “bobbing” of her head when she’s dancing to music.

When she learned to stack the rings and would clap after each one.

The thrill she shows when pulling her around the house in the laundry basket.

The first time she attempted to walk in shoes.

The snorting giggle.

Her theatric blowing of kisses. Muahhh!

Her first taste of spaghetti.

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The smiles when she wakes up in the morning. She is definitely an early bird like her mom.

Her endless curiosity of what’s in the cabinets.

Her fascination with Josie. I foresee a beautiful friendship in their future.

Happy birthday, Bridget bear!

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“There”

When Bridget was an infant, she was fascinated by the ceiling fan at my grandparents’ house. She would watch the blades go round and round and smile. Meanwhile, my grandpa would repeatedly say, “Fan. Fan. Where’s the fan?”

Bridget has been “talking” for a while, but other than ba ba, ma ma, and da da, she hasn’t quite connected sounds enough for a real word…until Friday.

Brian was determined to get her to point to the fan in our room. He wanted to teach her a new trick to show Papa. After several attempts, he asked her, “Where’s the fan, Bridget?” and she looked up at the ceiling, pointed, and said, “There” (or more like “dare”).

“There” may not be the most exciting word, but in the context of when and how it was said, it was awesome. My grandpa (Papa) absolutely adores Bridget and her new trick will make him so happy. I can’t wait for her to show him.

Friday favorites: Distractions from the news

This week’s “Miracle in Cleveland” media coverage has consumed me. I can’t stop watching and reading about this horrific story. I am so happy that the women were found alive, but sympathize for their long road ahead.

Distracting me from the news this week were a few lighthearted forms of entertainment:

The Voice: As a previous loyal American Idol fan (before it jumped the shark), I am glad I found this show to fill the singing competition void in my life. This is my first season watching and it is soooo good. The judges are very likable, and I am always entertained by the dynamic between Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Team Adam all the way, baby!

How I Met Your Mother: I have been a long-time fan of this show. How could you not be with the cast of characters, complete randomness, and frequent Cleveland shout outs? But admittedly, this show has also seen better days, and I’m mainly still watching to meet Ted’s future wife (aka the “mother”). Well I’m pretty certain that we will finally meet her on Monday’s season finale and I’m pumped.

The Book Thief: I hope to start this month’s book club title soon, The Book Thief (I’m a little behind, obviously). I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book and I’m a sucker for historical fiction, especially when it’s set during WW II.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend.

What I’ve learned about motherhood

I’ve been addressed as many names in my life: Shannon, daughter, granddaughter, girlfriend, fiancé, wife, aunt, sister-in-law, niece, cousin, friend, and coach. But my most recent title, and perhaps my most honorable, is mom. I still smile when I hear someone refer to Bridget as my “daughter” or me as Bridget’s “mommy.” Being a mom is something I imagined since I was five years old playing “house” with my cousin, Erin, to my curly blond-haired baby doll named Bridget (seriously, my first baby doll was named Bridget).

I’m still new to my role as mom; only a year in, but I’ve learned a lot about motherhood—and am still learning something new every day. In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share some of those nuggets of “wisdom”:

The physical part of childbirth is horrible. Anyone who told me differently was either lying or on drugs.

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Don’t spend money on newborn clothes.

It’s important to keep a journal (or blog, as I’ve chosen) because it’s easy to forget what you’ll want to remember.

It’s okay to feel a strange sense of accomplishment when bottles are washed and prepped for the next day.

I’m glad I reduced my TV show repertoire to three. Time is scarce and my DVR couldn’t have kept up.

It’s acceptable to swap the parenting book for a leisurely read. My mommy mind needs a break every once in a while.

Speaking of mommy mind…I sometimes feel like I lost my old, normal, dependable mind. I’ve made up words such as “combinded” (i.e., combined) and forgotten things I’d never have before.

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6:00 AM is sleeping in.

10:00 PM is my bedtime and there isn’t much that gets in the way of it.

That bedtime applies to weekends, too, because so does Bridget’s “sleeping in.”

A video monitor is a must.

When I walk into a room, people are more excited to see Bridget than me, and that’s okay.

Holding my sleeping Bridget ranks near the top of my list of the best things in life.

You’ll eat meals so fast that you barely taste them. That’s if you remember to eat at all.

Don’t be afraid to ask other moms for advice.

Most strangers I engage in conversation with feel inclined to tell me about their children. I listen, enjoy, and hope that is me one day.

Don’t lose your sense of humor. It will keep you laughing when all you want to do is cry sometimes.

I couldn’t name a recent blockbuster movie.

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It’s difficult to not post every cute picture to Facebook. But, resist the urge, if only to keep some of the sweetness to yourself.

There’s nothing on my phone that’s more important than being truly present when I’m with Bridget. 

I know every word to every song on every toy we own. Embrace it and sing along.

Never leave the house without Cheerios.

I don’t know what I would do without Brian. Words cannot describe the amazing husband and father he is to our family.

News stories hit closer to home as a parent.

There are not enough hours in the day. No matter how creative I try to be with time, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Working mom guilt is an unfortunate reality. Since I can’t change it, I try to focus my energy elsewhere.

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Baby Center is a mom’s bible.

You don’t get to see or talk to your friends nearly as much as you wish. True friends will understand.

Bridget’s smile could turn around any bad day.

It’s true what other moms say…you don’t get to go to the bathroom alone very often.

Dates may not always be dinner and a movie. Enjoy the time anyway.

Being a mother makes me appreciate my mom even more than I already did.

Pinterest isn’t nearly as cool as it used to be. It’s just a reminder of all the projects I’ll never get to.

You’ll find yourself on the other side of a crying baby in public. Be prepared for, “Well someone’s not a happy camper” comments.

I am thankful for friends with babies close to Bridget’s age. I’ve talked my dear friend, Kim’s, ear off at least once a week. 

I’m amazed at what I’ve learned to do one-handed.

And atop any item on this list…

…being a mom is a true blessing. Be sure to thank God for it every day. 

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Our Sunday

It was Bridget and mom taking on the world together last week. Brian was traveling for work through Friday.

After catching up on all the “fun” house stuff that got neglected while Bridget and I played outside and enjoyed this beautiful weather, we spent today exploring the metro parks in Hinckley.

Having moved from the heart of the metro parks in Berea, I was itching to find our new park to hike and have a picnic. Although this one isn’t in our back yard like at the old house, it sure is beautiful. There are several walking trails, a lake, open areas to play, and picnic tables galore.

I took several pictures that I’m in the process of editing and will share later. And best of all, I think I found my location for Bridget’s first birthday photo shoot. Eeek, I am excited!

When we got home, we snoozed for a little while and then headed right back outside. Bridget has really enjoyed our make shift “buggy” (aka laundry basket) so we knew she would love the wagon that we received as a shower gift from my friend, Tiffany, and her mom.

I would say this is quite the upgrade, wouldn’t you agree?

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