Thankful.

Today, I am thankful for…

Amazing friends. The real ones… the ones who forgive me for my shortcomings. The ones who I don't connect with for months- years, even- and our friendship doesn't skip a beat. The ones who love me enough to let me be me and who cherish me because of who I am. The ones who encourage. The ones who have been around forever. The ones who just walked into my life. The ones who will never walk away. The ones who show me who they truly are and let me love them. Those who are near and those who are far. I am SO THANKFUL for you.

My family. The time I had with Mum Mum before she died. The new time I get with Amma. The fact that my dad is still here and better than ever. My brother and sister and their endless love and generosity. My mom and her support and her unconditional love. My husband's family. The way that they all love my daughter to the moon and back.

My husband. His patience. His love for the Lord. His encouragement and support to help me follow my dreams. His new role as the most amazing dad I've ever seen. The way he looks at me. The way he looks at our tiny little girl. The joy that's written all over his face when he's with her. That he loves me sacrificially and stands by me through thick and thin. That I love him just as much.

My daughter. The light that dances in her eyes. The way she grasps my index fingers like mini vice-grips signaling that she wants to go walking. Her opinions. That she knows how to sign for "more" and it's so dang cute. The way she dances to music or when I sing… when I sing anything to her. Snuggling her in the mornings. Her excitement over our pups. Putting bows in her long, blonde hair. Making her giggle uncontrollably. The sheer joy and privilege of being her mama. Wondering every day why God decided to bless me with this amazing little creation. Watching her grow… and learning what it is to experience a love so big and vast and wide that I would give up my life and my world to keep her safe.

Photography. Seeing the world in snapshots. Capturing moments in my own life and those that I love that can be cherished long past our expiration dates.

My fur-kids. Those sweet little white fluffs that demonstrate forgiveness and unconditional love in a way that only dogs can. Their wet kisses and black noses. When they cuddle up next to me when I cry because they know that sometimes I just need a hug and a quiet reminder that I am loved.

My job. I work with two amazing women who have become like big sisters to me. They understand, support and give me advice on how to balance my life as a mom and a professional because they've been there. I get to travel and connect and be creative and just be me. A year ago I didn't know what we were going to do to support our soon-to-be family of three… and here I sit, in a better place than I could have ever dreamed up at the time.

The beauty that is there if we just take the time to look for it.

The contentment that can be found in nothing but Jesus and given to us by the Spirit.

This life that I have been given… the moments that have been entrusted to me… the responsibilities that are mine alone and the joy it is to have them. My health, my home, my love, my life. That I am not without knowing Who these things came from.

I am thankful for so much today, and I pray that you are too. May you be given the eyes to see that your blessings do indeed outweigh the hardships in your life. Our God has made it so, for He is good, all the time.

"I thank my God every time I remember you."
-Phillipians 1:3

Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones. You are loved.

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Nashville.

It's hard to believe that the trip we have been anticipating for months has already come and gone! Cody and I went sans LJ and I have to say, as much as I adore her and missed her while we were gone, I am glad we chose to leave her with my parents (much more fun for them too!). There's no way that Cody and I would have gotten to experience Nashville the way we did had we brought her along. (She is currently in the "can't-sit-still" phase. Imagine the plane ride.) And we pretty much experienced Nashville via our taste buds.

I was really hoping for some abundant fall color, but unfortunately we arrived a little late for the best of it. There was still some color here and there, and I soaked it up as much as I could!

We had some amazing BBQ, phenomenal espresso, the best cocktails we've ever tasted, made a stop at White Castle (a childhood favorite of mine!), and checked out some of the places that were recommended to us by helpful locals and friends who live there. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights:

Crema

Nashville Crema sign

We literally couldn't get enough of this place. We went three times. I wanted to pack the whole thing in my suitcase and take it with me back to Arizona. I learned much about the craft of espresso when I started working at Liberty Market and am thankful that I know a good shot of espresso when I taste/see/smell it. And Crema was IT! Loved the atmosphere too. I do believe this would get the Joe stamp of approval.

Nashville espresso

Nashville latte

Nashville downtown

Nashville Crema
Yeah. It was love.

Marche

Nashville Marche

I was too busy enjoying my savory tart with parsnips, gouda and caramelized onions and tasting Cody's cinnamon croissant french toast to bother with pictures. But this was by far our favorite food experience on our trip.

Patterson House

Nashville Patterson House

Before we went to Nashville, I had no idea what a speakeasy was. But everywhere we went, people kept talking about "that speakeasy the Patterson House." In fact, while at dinner when we mentioned to our server that we were headed over there, she got this dreamy look on her face and said to us breathily, "It's wonderful…" She was momentarily transported out of her current reality as our server before snapping out of it and taking our payment. Little did we know… we'd be doing the same thing after our experience there.

There is a waiting list… a heavy velvet curtain dividing the waiting area from the bar… and once you're inside, you're handed a menu full of drinks made the old way- think an experience that transports you back to Prohibition times. We sat at the bar and enjoyed two drinks each made by our bartender Matt- who was awesome enough to buy our first round in honor of our anniversary. We heart him forever. I didn't have my camera with me (I was KICKING myself) but we went back and snapped this photo. Hands down, most memorable part of our trip- we LOVED it.

Fall Leaves

Nashville sidewalk leaves

Nashville red leaves

Nashville red leaf

Nashville house

Nashville life and death

Of course, being from AZ, we were super stoked to see some actual fall color. And experience some cool fall weather (it stays well into the 100s through October here). Much to my chagrin, it was warmer in Nashville when we arrived than it was in AZ! COME ON! Thankfully, that changed quickly, but sadly for us, we missed the bulk of the color.

Honky Tonkin' 

We also headed down to Broadway to do a little bar hopping and BBQ eatin'. Jack's was SO GOOD. Again, didn't bring the camera (and it's a good thing- the honky tonks were PACKED!) but I took a shot of the area:

Nashville Broadway

Before we hopped on our plane home, we met up with Courtney of Pizzazzerie and being the sweetie that she is, she treated us to lunch at Nuvo! It was so fun meeting her in person and getting to know her a little more. She's a doll and I can't wait to see her again when the TomKat girls and I venture to NYC in January!

Nashville Courtney 2

Nashville Courtney

And finally, here are some pictures of us from the trip.

Nashville Cedars of Lebanon

Nashville East

Nashville piggy back

Nashville Gallery

Nashville AEA fall leaves

Nashville couch

So… the verdict? We loved Nashville. Maybe even enough that we could live there… someday. But not now. Phoenix is home and as much as there was that we loved about Nashville, I actually left with a new appreciation for all we do have at our disposal here in Arizona. All in all, we had an amazing trip and loved the time we had for just the two of us. Nashville- we will be back!

Happy 3rd anniversary to the love of my life!

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Where do we go next year? It will be, after all, 11.11.11!

Help us decide- to bring baby or not to bring baby?

Cody and I are headed to Nashville for our anniversary and have run into quite the dilemma as to whether we should bring LJ or not. The thought of not bringing her along bums both of us out big time because we want her with us and can't imagine being away from her that long.

On the flip side, the thought of bringing her along STRESSES US OUT.

We have a sitter-in-waiting if we decide not to take her along, so that isn't the issue. And it certainly isn't an issue of wanting her there- of course we do. What we get stressed out about is the plane ride there (the child can NOT sit still- and screams at the top of her lungs if she's forced to!), the naps she requires, the fact that we probably won't be able to get out to experience Music City the way it was meant to be experienced (like go to shows), cloth diapering, whether we'll get quality time together (since it is for our anniversary) or if we'll spend the whole time chasing our constanty-on-the-go little girl around. And I really feel like we need some time to focus on each other instead of always dealing with life's daily demands (not just LJ- I would never complain about that- but everything as a whole). I feel like life hasn't made much room for our marriage to grow in recent months with all of the commitments and changes we have faced- all good ones, but the days are definitely speeding by more quickly than ever before!

But we love our daughter to pieces and want her with us when we travel. It really makes me sad to think of being away from her that long, about taking pictures in this fun new place and her not being in them. She's fascinated by everything around her and when I imagine the look on her little face when we show her a leaf turned red by fall, or snuggle with her to keep her warm, I can't imagine her not being there! So if we're gonna bring her, we need to be prepared to have her with us, and it needs to happen fast.

So we don't know what to do. We're both completely torn. I know lots of moms out there have little ones that they have traveled with (or maybe didn't) and have opinions and advice for us since we're getting down to the wire. So what advice or experiences can you share to help us decide?

LJ Vintage Rose Wraps

Something tells me…

…that this will be the same color coming out as it was going in. I suppose that's what we get for sticking store-bought baby-food squash with fresh avocado in a food processor.

I swear I saw this same stuff in her diaper (and also my shorts) yesterday.

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And now it's all over her face.

And just for the record, I don't think a little girl has ever loved her Daddy as much as this one does.

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Peach Festival.

Last night, I saw on Twitter that there was going to be a Peach Festival this weekend at Schnepf Farms. Since peaches are Cody's absolute favorite food of all time, we decided that it was a must that we go- especially since you can pick your own peaches from their orchard. 

I tweeted and FB'd that we would be there, and our friends Sarah and Jeff saw my posts and decided to meet us there. It was so fun to see them- especially since we haven't seen them since Linnea was two weeks old! We watched a pit-spitting and pie-eating contest, rode the hay ride, ate some amazing peach pie, lusted after the peach cinnamon rolls they had in their bakery, and headed out to the orchard to pick our peaches! Our day in photos:

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Our driver:
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All of us on the hayride:
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Found a little friend on my peach… I wasn't willing to share:
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Yes, I realize it looks like I'm not wearing pants in this photo:
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Hanging out with Sarah:
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We brought home several pounds of delicious, pesticide-free peaches, and now we just need to figure out what to do with them. Now I need some recipes from YOU! Peach pie? Peach preserves? Other ideas? Shoot 'em my way!

Naughty Blogger.

I am a naughty, naughty blogger. Good bloggers stay on top of posting. Good bloggers have something interesting to say, and the best have something interesting to say every day. I have determined that I haven't been keeping up with posting regularly because I haven't led a very exciting life lately. I started this blog hoping that becoming a mom would provide me with a plethora of hilarious, endearing stories to share with my readers.

But alas, my child is so perfect, I have nothing exciting to write about.

So what if I'm biased… and kidding. But she eats well. She's gaining weight at a normal rate, finally. She sleeps ALL THE WAY through the night. She coos, and smiles, and almost laughs, and today she rolled onto her back from her tummy for the first time. TV enthralls her (unfortunately), and I stay home with her most of the week. I take her everywhere I go and she is a little angel pretty much all the time. When she's asleep, or generally content, I get some work done. All in all, a pretty tame existence. I have an amazing kid.

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On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Bloggy Boot Camp with my talented and world-famous client Kim of the TomKat Studio. My head has been swimming with ideas ever since, and so has Kim's – so much that we're closing up shop next week so she can get some ideas implemented and the brainstorming can commence. It was pretty spectacular being surrounded by ladies who get what it's like to be a mom, to want to contribute to the family income, to use business-savvy and social skill to propel ideas forward. We learned about Web design, PR, SEO, small business, monetizing, and being authentic. It was fantastic. It was inspiring to meet like-minded women who support each other; not compete with each other. How refreshing for a profession that has the potential to be incredibly catty.

I have to admit though, that for a novice like me, it was a tad bit intimidating. I have tons of ideas that I've wanted to see come to life, but the adjustment of new motherhood and working from home has been tougher than I thought. It's not that life is so hard or complicated; it's just that I don't have it down to a science yet. While everyone there was super welcoming, it definitely was hard to feel like part of the "club" because I didn't feel like I had much to offer. These ladies are so talented and seem to have this ability to juggle responsibility that I can barely wrap my mind around. But it was so good to see firsthand that yes… it can be done.

Life as a new mom has been incredible in ways that I couldn't have even imagined. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I can't complain about having such a perfect child. Ha! I'll be paid back a hundred fold for such a comment, I'm sure (The tween years? Honestly). I mean, seriously, writing about how Linnea has been cooing happily on the couch next to me while I get some work done is only exciting… oh… never. I'm not saying I'll never write about her- she is my muse, after all – I just have other things to share here as well. I'm working on a list of topics and a schedule to follow, and I can't wait to get organized and share them with you.

On another note, I just finished the book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Don Miller, and also had the chance to hear him speak at our church a few weeks ago, and it was a timely, much-needed message for not just me but my husband Cody as well. We're working on our "What If" lists and are determined to live a better story (you can read his here). If I've learned anything in recent months, it's that life is short, and precious. Cheers to making the most of it!

Breastfeeding FAIL.

Linnea turned three months old this week, and as of her weight check at the doctor she still only weighs a whopping 7 lbs. 12 oz. When people see her the first comment is usually,"Oh, look at her! She's a brand new one, isn't she?"

Nope. She's three months old.

When she was first born, at 6 lbs. even, and 5 lbs. 6 oz. when we left the hospital, she was pretty tiny to begin with. I was on a mission to exclusively breastfeed, simply because it was the best thing for her, and at first things seemed to be going pretty well. The doctor said she was "perfect" at her two-week checkup and said that we didn't need to come back until her two-month checkup. I continued breastfeeding and had no idea it wasn't working until we went in at two months, and she only weighed 6 lbs. 5 oz.!

I felt awful. A-W-F-U-L, awful.

Leading up to the arrival of our daughter, we had decided that we were going to keep her on a feeding and sleeping schedule- we had read the first of the Babywise series and it sounded like a good plan for us. We knew some families who followed the Babywise plan and it was working well for them, plus we agreed with the principles presented in the book, so we were going for it. But after Linnea arrived, and we fed her every three hours 24 hours a day for a while (which is pretty typical for every child at first), we noticed that she was pretty fussy, pretty often. My parents insisted that she was hungry, but I insisted on keeping her on a schedule. Turns out they were right. (When is mom ever not right? Someday Linnea's gonna learn that about me. Ha!) I wasn't producing enough milk for her (only about an ounce at a time)
but I had no idea because, needless to say, I was ignorant. It's been
such a learning process but it's been amazing.

So we started supplementing with formula and she became a much happier baby. Her skinny little legs are filling out and her knees aren't so knobby anymore. She's also pretty much outgrown her newborn clothes- finally. She's much more alert and content- and even though I never wanted to have to give her formula because it's the second-best thing for her and not the best, her health is much more important. While formula is much harder on our wallets, I'm not gonna lie- it's much easier to deal with bottle feeding in public than it is to nurse anywhere outside our home. 

On that note, I've pretty much transitioned completely from breastfeeding to formula. I still try to breastfeed her at least once or twice a day, but unfortunately it just isn't working anymore. As a mother, it's surprisingly difficult to have to let go of that ability to nourish your child the way God intended, but on the flip side it's also somewhat of a relief. This motherhood thing can be a crazy ride- no doubt this is only the beginning!

So anyway, here are a few pictures of Cody and Linnea last weekend.

Burps:

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Try and resist me:
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Look at my loooooong eyelashes like my Daddy's:
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Linnea loves Daddy! He's the best.
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