Baby’s first letter.

Dear Linnea,

Two months ago today, you came into the world in such a whirlwind I could barely see straight. I went to work that morning feeling totally normal and left that afternoon in bona-fide labor. You were born less than thirteen hours later. It was the hardest, most physically demanding, exhausting, BEST THING I have ever done. And your daddy was there helping all along the way. 

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I tell you all the time how I grew you in my belly. What a miraculous thing God had in mind when He knit you together. You, my beautiful baby, my little angel, are an amazing little creation.

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I have spent this time watching you grow, cuddling you incessantly, seeing how quickly you are falling in love with your Daddy- like you could possibly help that. He is one wonderful man. I always knew you would be a daddy's girl. I don't think any man will ever love you as much as your Daddy does (but we are praying that someday one will!). There is nothing more precious than when he comes home from work and all he wants to do is hold you in his arms and make faces at you so that you smile at him. And oh boy, that smile! The first time you smiled at me a couple of weeks ago filled me with so much joy! As if you weren't already beautiful enough- you go and do a silly thing like smiling at me. Goodness, child. Sometimes I think my heart might just explode- and yet it somehow contains this growing love I never could have understood until you came into my life. 

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I find myself getting excited to share experiences with you. I took you to the park one day and we laid under the shade of a tree together and you smiled and cooed at me all afternoon. I went to the toy store the other day and bought you a tea set that we can play with together when you get a little older. I am excited to take you to Disneyland and throw birthday parties for you and teach you the different noises animals make when you see them at the zoo. Right now, you don't do much more other than kick those little legs of yours and reach out with those tiny little hands that look just like mine. You're still such an itty bitty one- less than seven pounds- but from what Daddy and I can tell, you are bright-eyed- SO bright-eyed- and healthy. And we are so thankful for that.

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I love to sing lullabies to you, even silly ones like that ridiculous "binky song" I made up this morning. "I've got a binky, binky for my girl- binky for my girl- binky for my girl!" I love holding you and rocking with you in my arms while I feed you. I love weekends when Daddy gets up in the morning and brings you into our bed, and we take in the wonder that is our daughter. I love your little newborn kisses. I love your drama arms. I love when I pick you up from your crib when you're fussy and you calm down right away. I love when you hold your little head up, peering over my shoulder at your surroundings, or other people in the room, making everyone go, "Awwww!" I love how completely smitten I am with you. I love how completely smitten everyone is with you. You should see your Amma- oh my. If she could have you all to herself forever and ever she would take you in a heartbeat.

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Now that you're here, Linnea, it is impossible for Daddy and I to imagine life without you. We hold so much hope for your future and pray that we will be the parents you need us to be to become the woman God made you to be. You have gifted us with a brand new perspective on the whole of life that only exists by your presence.

But you- you are a priceless gift. We love you so much, Little Monkey. We are looking forward to many more months and years of watching you grow up- and we will cherish every second of it.

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With all our love,

Mama and Daddy

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Why I am SO EXCITED: The TomKat Studio.

As you may know, when I found out I was expecting Linnea, I set out on a mission to start a home-based business as a Virtual Assistant and developed No Strings Virtual Solutions. As is the case with most business ventures, it took some time to develop and get off the ground, and before I knew it, Linnea was nearly here and my world was taken over by all things baby. That's the beauty of owning your own biz- you can prioritize your life appropriately and focus on what's most important! I had a couple of project-based clients that I helped with the launch of their Web sites and blogs, but I put anything beyond that on hold as I prepared to become a mom. 

The TomKat Studio

My hubby went back to work on Wednesday, and I was finally settling into somewhat of a rhythm with the little one to where I would be able to start building my business and taking on clients again. That's when I saw a post on Twitter from the TomKat Studio (whose blog I've been following since I saw her on the cover of our local magazine, Go Gilbert! back in May) saying that she was seeking a virtual assistant for her paper and party business. Kim has THE CUTEST blog I've ever seen and it's clear that her business has taken off in recent months, so I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. I even had friends who saw the post and sent it to me knowing I would love it. Imagine my excitement when she e-mailed me to let me know that I was her top choice! I mean, LOOK at her adorable creations!

The TomKat Studio

There are so many reasons I am so thrilled to work with her, besides the fact that she is one of the sweetest people I've ever talked to. She is immensely talented, creative and is genuinely living out her passion, and I love that kind of energy! Back when I started No Strings, my husband asked me what kind of clients I wanted to serve. I told him that I could work with almost anyone, but in a perfect world I would love to work with creative entrepreneurs- just like Kim! Her Web site was one I frequented when I needed inspiration and it also got me excited that I was having a little girl- bring on the pretty parties please! And lastly, that issue of Go Gilbert! is the only one I kept around the house because it was that article that inspired me to venture out on my own. It was only a few days after I read it that I found out I was expecting- and you can bet it gave me the confidence I needed that I could handle being an entrepreneur AND a good mom too!

The TomKat Studio

So who would have thunk that a couple of months after our little one was born that I would be working with the very person who inspired me to start my own business? It will never cease to amaze me the way that God orchestrates things in our lives. We NEVER know just how good His plan can be until we find ourselves in the midst of it! And I am sure there is so much more amazingness to come! For now, I am looking forward to helping this successful, creative business owner and fellow mom build her company and realize its full potential. Cheers to Kim and the TomKat Studio!

The TomKat Studio

(Un)happy camper.

I am now on day number three of what I have dubbed "inconsolable afternoons." Clean diaper? Check. Full tummy? Check. Burped? Check. Won't burp? OK. Mylecon? Check. Comfortable? Don't see any pinchy diapers… Check. Rocking in her boppy doesn't work, binkies don't work, holding her and rubbing her back doesn't work, singing lullabies doesn't work (although my singing voice may just exacerbate the problem…).

Only two things have changed this week that are completely new to her since she was born. Number one is that Cody returned to work on Wednesday. So is this in any way connected to my husband's absence after being here consistently over the first six weeks of Linnea's life? I'm gonna say no, mostly because I'd like to think I'm enough to console her, but I may be in denial because she is already so clearly a Daddy's Girl. All he has to do is hold her and speak gently in her ear and she is GOLDEN. Sometimes when I pick her up she screams even louder… unless, of course, I'm feeding her. Then it's the epitome of peaceful in this household. 

See? Screaming when Mom holds her:

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Happy as a clam when Daddy holds her:

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And I will spare you a picture of me feeding her. But trust me, she's perfectly fine when I do.

Anyway, RULING THAT OUT, that leaves me with a solid theory as to why she's so upset in the afternoons, because I just don't think these are so-called "daily fussy times." This is knock-down, drag-out, top-of-the-lungs screaming as soon as she is done eating that has lasted almost until her next scheduled feeding. With no daytime naps. And it is COMPLETELY my fault. The theory?

Coffee.

I started drinking caffeinated coffee again. Not a gallon at a time, but a cup or two in the mornings. And after drinking strictly decaf when I was pregnant, this may have been a bit of a shock to her tiny system. Consequently I have a very unhappy infant who doesn't sleep longer than 15 minutes at a time between feedings and crashes at night. (But hey, at least she sleeps at night!) No wonder she doesn't like me. Ha!

Anyway, we'll see if my theory is correct now that I'm giving up the stuff… again. God forbid we have a colicky baby- I would feel so bad for her because I imagine that is miserable! We'll just keep our fingers crossed for more times like these:

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Mommy loves you from Andrea Alley on Vimeo.

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Daddy's girl from Andrea Alley on Vimeo.

Our trip to Oak Flat.

Last week, Arizona had one of the BIGGEST winter storms in recent history- it was nuts. The single day rainfall record was nearly double the previous record, and higher elevations had such intense snowfall that interstates and most roads up north were shut down for days. For goodness' sake- it was so out of control that we actually had TORNADO WARNINGS in metro Phoenix! Say what?! So what do Arizonans do once the insanity passes? We head straight for the areas where the action is!

Our route of choice was an impromptu drive to a place called Oak Flat between Superior and Globe, an area where I used to go climbing, bouldering and camping (three pastimes I would like to take up again… someday). On our way there, we not only got a closer look at the snow-capped peaks surrounding the Valley, there were also waterfalls all along side the US-60, and the sky was breathtaking! Here's a few pictures- it was super cold, so we left Linnea in her car seat the whole time. Didn't stop me from snapping a picture or two of her 🙂

One of many waterfalls at Oak Flat- this was up by the mine:

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The snow-capped hills surrounding the area- the light was beautifully contrasted:

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A few pictures of the three of us:

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The old mine road through Oak Flat:

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Here are a couple of pictures of the waterfalls that formed on the side of the highway. We snapped these as we were driving by:

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Some gorgeous desert scenery:

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The sky was amazing!

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Next road trip adventure with our little one: Sedona and Flagstaff sometime before the hubster has to head back to work on February 3.