ENOUGH. With the INCESSANT. SCREAMING.

I used to call Linnea's random vocal exercises "opinions." The kid has opinions on everything. She wakes up with opinions. Very opinionated in the crib every morning, very opinionated. It's cute. But it has evolved. She's become a noisy little monster. Interesting, this has coincided with us introducing solids… hmm… is there something in orange root vegetables that sends kids completely over the edge? I'm really beginning to wonder.

All day long, my child has been screaming. At the top of her lungs. And it makes. my. ears. BLEED. I don't even know when this happened, or FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY, but it is as if the floodgates of Linnea's otherwise innocent vocal cords have been opened and the combined volume of all the choirs in heaven have been concentrated into one shrill sound that now only stops when she is either eating or sleeping or laughing at our dogs. I didn't really notice how bad it was until yesterday when my parents and Amma were over here and my mom was trying to feed Linnea some sweet potato and broccoli and she just started SCREAMING. And my poor mom was plugging her ears and saying "OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP" and I suddenly realized that my eardrums were vibrating and I had no clue what on God's green earth her problem was, but this nonsense needed to stop immediately. As I looked around at the faces of my parents and my dear, sweet grandma, and saw their helpless and expectant and wholly unamused expressions, I knew that when she started doing something that annoyed these three people, that it had to be pretty freaking bad.

Linnea: "eeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

My mom: "OH MY GOD why is she doing this? Make it stop! My ears can't handle this!"

Me: "How should I know? I'm only her mom…………… Um…………… No, Linnea, NOOOOOOOOO screaming. No screaming!"

Linnea: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…….. Heh heh heh. Heh."

So she thinks me disciplining her is FUNNY. Great. Not that I thought reasoning with a 7-month-old made any sense to begin with, but it's not like anyone had any better ideas to alleviate the shrieking. Ear plugs, perhaps?

I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure she's not completely doing it out of mockery. Like, "Oh, Mother, you think I have no idea this doesn't annoy the crap out of you, but not only am I fully aware, this is only the beginning of my grand master plan to break you down with annoying behavior followed up with acts so adorable you will never be mad at me." Everything I said would never happen with my child is already happening. It will be a battle of wills to the bitter end, of that I can assure you. I always used to say that I would never be that parent in the restaurant with the screaming child, but now I am the parent in the restaurant with the screaming child, and I see now what a drag it can be because all I want to do sometimes is relax at Starbucks with a latte, reading my new Real Simple magazine, and not be spit up on randomly while holding my daughter who would otherwise be screaming but instead is enamored with ripping up the pages of said magazine or pulling out my hair by the fistful or knocking over any interesting object within her reach, because if it's full of liquid or has buttons on it SHE WANTS IT IN HER MOUTH RIGHT NOW OR ELSE. 

Just another initiation into motherhood, I suppose. If I ever come up with a solution to her new need for screaming, I will let you know. If you have a solution, PLEASE SAVE ME. I miss the days when people used to say, "She has such a sweet, quiet cry!" Now all I get are eye darts thrown in my direction because I am That Mom with the Obnoxious Screamer Who Needs to Get Out Before the Angry Mob Attacks.

Sigh. I know. I'm leaving. Enjoy your quiet time, you dart-throwing, coffee-sucking DILL HOLES.

On that note, here's a photo of my dad and his sweet li'l screaming baby girl:

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As if the screaming matters. You could just never be mad at that face.

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My rainbow 30th birthday bash!

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In case this picture doesn't say it all…

I had a totally fabulous 30th birthday party! It was so wonderful having my family and many of my friends there to celebrate with me. It meant so much to have everyone there, and I missed everyone who couldn't make it.

It was a lot of fun putting together all the details! Because I have always loved rainbows, and my favorite collection at the TomKat Studio is the Rainbow Party theme, I researched colorful inspiration and decor, and here's what I came up with. I only had my point-and-shoot, so please pardon the less-than-worthy quality of these photos! 

The dessert table:

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Rainbow Twizzlers and the Cake Pops I made a la Bakerella. I switched up the red velvet for a rich devil's food instead.
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This is my Amma's wine cake: AMAZINGNESS ON A PLATE and my special request for my birthday. It's my favorite cake by far and it was a huge hit at the party! I dressed it up with a rainbow of handmade tissue paper flowers, a craft I found in the Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts:
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Inspired by Amy Atlas's InStyle feature– which was a super exciting time for us at TKS as it included some labels designed by Kim– as well as the 107-degree weather, I included a sundae bar on the dessert table. My favorite combo? Chocolate ice cream with caramel sauce and sea salt.
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I fell in love with this rainbow of glass bottles my mom and I found at HomeGoods:
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Made a whole rainbow of poms- these will come in handy for future parties as well! Have a color theme? There's a pom for that.
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Made a rainbow tutu for Linnea. Somehow it ended up on Hanalei halfway through the evening:
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I couldn't resist these silly moustaches… and neither could Ryan and Alex. How much do you love her skirt? We went on a little thrift shopping excursion a few weeks ago and she found it at Goodwill. It was originally a dress and she turned it into a skirt- fabulous!
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My goofy husband: who needs a moustache when you can have ridiculous eyebrows instead?
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My dad made it to my party. That made my whole night.
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We asked people to bring either their favorite beer or their favorite pot luck item, so we provided our family's all-time favorite sandwiches: Mum Mum's ham buns. It's a secret family recipe, so no, you can't have it! 😉
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The vuvuzelas… ha!
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And, of course, who can forget my favorite part of the entire party? Linnea dressed up in her rainbow tutu and bow! She couldn't possibly be any cuter, just FYI.
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Thanks to my hubby, my mom and my Amma for helping put everything together. And thanks to everyone who came from near and far. It was such a blessing getting to celebrate with you!

Now that the house is back to normal, I'll begin planning Cody and Linnea's birthday party… 99% sure I have the theme for that one picked out! But I have nearly six months to plan this one, so I think I'll relax for a little while 🙂

Heh heh heh… Heh.

The other day, Cody and I bought the cutest little stuffed monkey for our little monkey. I just couldn't resist. My Amma yells at me every time I call Linnea a little monkey- "She's not a little monkey!"- but I can't help it, it just comes out of my mouth like verbal vomit all the time now. Little monkey this, little monkey that. For instance, you know that song by the Cardigans that goes, "Love me, love me, SAY that you looove me… fool me, fool me, go on and fool me"? I don't even know what it's called but I sing, "Monkey, monkey, say you're a monkey, monkey, monkey, go on my monkey, monkey monkey, pretend you're my monkey, monkey, monkey, you are my monkey, I don't care 'bout anything but yooooooouu!" and EVERY TIME without fail, if Linnea is having a fit, she breaks out in a huge smile and I love it so much I don't care how ridiculous it is that I'm singing the word "monkey" over and over to her in the tune of some random Swedish one-hit-wonder's song from 1996. And you're welcome for getting it stuck in your head for the rest of the day. It's a gem, that one.

ANYWAY. Yesterday my mom started monkeying around with Linnea and we got her laughing up a storm on camera. I guarantee you will smile bigger than you have in a while. And since it's a little bit more cuteness than I can handle, I'm gonna step outside for a minute and take a few deep breaths in a paper bag, splash my face with the garden hose on full blast and then come back and resume normal life. Enjoy.

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And here's a picture of some AWESOME hair for good measure:

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I'm not really sure where her neck went.

An update and Trumpettes.

First thing's first, people: DAD CAME HOME ON SATURDAY! I am so happy to share with you that the surgery on his aneurysm was a huge success and didn't require that they open him up again- the surgeon was able to go through the femoral artery to take care of it, so his recovery has been amazing. I've seen him twice since then, and while he definitely has to travel the road toward full recovery, he is up and about and none of us can wait until he's at the mall again, covering every square foot of Fashion Square- four times. So thanks again for your prayers- you made a huge difference in the life of our family! The fact that we have more time to cherish with Dad means the world to all of us!

***

Before Linnea was born, I had this idea that we would buy her a pair of tiny newborn Chuck Taylors
and we would all wear our Converse for the newborn shoot with Session Nine. But, alas, Linnea arrived, and her feet were so tiny that newborn socks looked like a cast! Case in point:

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Never mind the fact that her feet look like skis. That has nothing to do with me or my feet… really. Moving on.

My friend told me that once she saw a little one wearing the cutest little socks that looked like Chucks, so naturally I had to have them! I Googled and Googled, but nothing came up. Then, when I was on a jaunt with my nephew in Tucson, we went into the cutest little baby boutique and I discovered Trumpettes. A pair of Mary Jane Trumpettes were given to us by some friends, and I adore them! I mean, seriously, does it get any cuter??!!?

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So, needless to say, these are a must for teeny tiny little feet! Even though she's growing up a storm (12 lbs. 8 oz. at her appointment this morning! Yay!) these will fit her for the first year of her life. I've gotta get some of those Summer Mary Janes… and believe it or not, one of these has inspired me for a possible theme for her first birthday/my husband's 31st!

Appreciation.

I am so thankful for everyone who has been praying for my dad and who contacted me to let me know that he is in their thoughts and prayers. We went to the hospital today and he was awake and in very good spirits, and no doubt very thankful to be alive. We are all happy about that. He would laugh that I am saying this, but he truly radiated appreciation today. Renewed, I think- for life, for his loved ones, for his wife and his children and grandchildren. He's big and tough and ultimately a measly quadruple bypass can't keep him down. But he knows better than to go against doctor's orders, so he will do whatever it takes to get well soon. A CAT scan is in order to make sure we don't miss anything. And lastly, he is willing to have the surgery team go in to take care of the aneurysm the right way- whether that means they have to open his chest again, or go in through the artery in his leg. We're hoping and praying for the latter, and asking God to hold Dad tightly in His protective hands as we await the next surgery. So don't stop praying for him in the coming weeks. Our family is grateful for all you have done to lift up Dad already.

As our family came together at the hospital, anxiously waiting for good news from the surgeon, I realized that there are so many wonderful things about each one of these people that I hope Linnea sees as shining examples of love and character as she grows up. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing what each of those qualities are in individual blogs dedicated to those who are closest to my heart through thick and thin and who have shown love unconditionally in spite of my flaws. These are the people I want Linnea to look to when she questions humanity, because God has blessed me tremendously with amazing people who love her as much as I do.

So anyway, this is just a quick post to say thank you. Near and far, friends and those merely passing through my little site- thank you. God hears each and every one of your intercessions on my dad's behalf, and I will never forget what you've done for us. When I told my dad that there are countless people praying for him- strangers, even- he smiled brightly and said, "That's wonderful. Tell them to keep it up."

Fix you.

Isn't it true that we wake up most days thinking that life will generally be the same when we go to bed at night? For the most part, that's how life goes. But then the days come when life is turned completely upside-down. Life simply won't be the same, ever again.

Sometimes it's good- you get engaged, and eagerly anticipate your wedding day. The day you graduate from college. The day you find out you're going to be a mom or a dad. The day your child is born. Someone surprises you with something small but exciting, like my BFF did when she gave me a haircut for my birthday. Or maybe it's a big surprise, and someone you love is coming home early from deployment, or they show up on your door step unexpectedly. Life is full of all kinds of amazing surprises.

But sometimes it's bad. A loved one passes away. You receive a devastating diagnosis at what should have been a routine doctor's visit. A baby dies of SIDS with no warning whatsoever. A car accident happens that takes a person's life. Or you wake up one day only to find out that your dad- your big, strong, wise dad- has suffered a heart attack, and was taken into emergency surgery for a quadruple bypass. Family comes together, not quite processing the gravity of the situation, until you go into the room, and see him lying there with tubes hooked up to so many different fluids and machines that you can barely breathe yourself. You choke back tears, knowing that he is OK, but given that there is still a looming, gigantic aortic aneurism that can't be operated on until he recovers from this first major surgery, you pray and pray that God will protect him from a rupture in the weeks until the doctors can complete their work. 

That was how I spent today.

I don't even know how to begin to tell you how much my dad means to me. We didn't always get along, God knows, but when all is said and done, he is my hero. He has a piece of my heart that no one can touch. He is as proud as can be, and has this silly tendency to just brush things off like they're nothing (like when he was joking around with my mom before surgery- no big deal, right?), and for goodness' sake, whatever you do, don't get him started with his political opinions! But, oh my gosh… he adores his family. And we all adore him. And while we aren't big on saying so- well, it's no secret how much we mean to each other.

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The things that I have witnessed and experienced in recent months make me amazed that the human heart can withstand so much change and contain such an astounding volume of love. Our daughter was born and it was as if my heart ballooned to epic proportions just to accommodate the love I have for not only her, but my husband as well. We lost Mum Mum, and while I was rejoicing that she was with the Lord and no longer in pain, there were things that I wish I could have said to her before it was too late- and it's not like I didn't have time. My husband and I witnessed a horrendous wreck right before our eyes that makes me shudder to think that had it happened two seconds later, all of us, including Linnea, would have been a part of it, and the people involved in the wreck may not have walked away. I learned of a young couple who lost their first child to SIDS when she was five months old- a story that tore me apart and, even though I don't know them personally, I think of them every day. A police officer was murdered two weeks after the birth of his second child, and his wife has been left to care for her two babies and mourn the loss of her husband. I learned this week that the mild dysplasia that was discovered during my pregnancy had progressed to severe, or "cancer-in-place" – one step below invasive cancer – that fortunately was caught in time and removed by my doctor. And today, I am eternally grateful that my dad is still alive and in recovery mode from a life-saving surgery. 

So if you ever want to justify to me that it's worth treating people like they'll always be around, that it's a good thing to wait to make things right with the people you love – that is, if you ever bother doing so – I would laugh in your face. Because take it from me – life is short. My 95-year-old grandma said so before she passed away. She talked about her teen years as if they happened yesterday. Don't ever take your loved ones for granted. Don't ever treat them with anything but love and transparency. Don't put off forgiveness or believe that sick myth that "time will heal." It won't. Don't fear real relationships in life, and don't be fake or mean or unforgiving, because when you reach the end and your life is flashing before your eyes, you will see nothing but static on a broken TV.

The song "Fix You" by my favorite band of all time, Coldplay, has been on repeat on my iPod in recent months. It's therapeutic, it's heartbreaking, its words are healing when I can't make sense of things that are happening around me. It crescendos to a state of hope and desperation that sometimes only music can provide. I don't want to lose something that I can't replace if I can help it. I hope the same for you.

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse.

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above earth or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream, down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face and I…

Tears stream, down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face and I…

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you.

Opinions.

Be forewarned, I highly doubt anyone would truly appreciate this more than Cody and I, and maybe our moms too. But this child has A LOT to say, and I'm beginning to think we're gonna have an opinionated little motor-mouth on our hands in another year or so. She wants everyone to know that she has a VOICE and deserves to be HEARD! Haha. I love it.

Not to mention, today is Linnea's 5-month birthday! Seriously, how is that possible? Oh, baby girl, you are growing too fast for your mama's tastes… but it's very exciting, nonetheless. Time really flies when you become a mama.

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