Paparazzi.

Paparazzi

Clearly, they're always going to be after her, because this is what happens when we let LJ pick out her own outfits:

LJ outfit
Hey, at least the rainbow on her onesie is in the same realm as the rainbow Babylegs.

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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

Where it all began.

Cody, LJ and I went up to Flagstaff for a day trip on Monday. It was a lovely day- gorgeous weather, amazing coffee at Macy's, a drive through Oak Creek Canyon, conversation about where our family is headed next and how we will accomplish our goals. While we were there, we decided to take LJ to the very spot where Cody proposed to me: on a rock at Buffalo Park. Here she is at the scene of the crime:

LJ on The Rock
She was very concerned about being out in nature, and didn't have much tolerance for things like sitting in the grass, touching rocks or dealing with the wind (she literally gasps… it's pretty stinkin' cute). See? Very concerned:

LJ concerned

We have come to the conclusion that SHE HATES IT. That being said, we will be turning this around quickly when she begins joining me at the community garden in a couple of weeks!

On another note, today she turns 9 months old, and my dad is 75! Happy birthday to one of the best men I've ever known. Here's a picture of him with a buddy in a boat in Pennsylvania, circa 1941-ish. He's the one on the left:

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Cute li'l guy, wasn't he?

Love you, Dad! You're the BEST!

Growing too fast.

Yesterday at Starbucks I was chatting with one of the baristas who is pregnant with a little girl, due in January. That was me a year ago, and it feels like yesterday. She was oogling over LJ, and I looked at her and said, "Cherish every moment. It goes by way too fast. And you are going to LOVE having a little girl."

Then the other barista said, "There is no faster hourglass than the life of a child."

OK, Proverbs. But seriously.

Sometimes, I look at my daughter, and I can't believe I'm a mother. I'm still in awe when I'm struck with the realization that God entrusted me with this little life, and how is she already eight months old, and she seems to hit a new milestone every day, and I can't believe how small she once was, and these tiny newborn clothes that I'm packing away are small enough to fit a doll, and she was soooo tiny and there's so much that I will never get to experience again with her. 

LJ has been commando crawling for a while now. And now she's getting up on her hands and knees and doing "the rock." She's learned to feed herself with a bottle, and yesterday I had to lower her crib mattress because she's starting to pull herself up. (Feeding herself a bottle? No, no, no! I want to hold her in my arms and feed her!) Obviously it brings me great joy when she reaches a new milestone, but it's always accompanied by this strange, bittersweet feeling that my tiny girl is growing so incredibly fast and I will never get this time back. And, looking back, there is so much I would have done differently if only I had known.

*Enter mommy guilt.* (But that's a whole other post.)

But it's OK. It's my job to help her grow and learn and set her free someday. I am SO thankful that I get to be with her while she is small. I am such a sentimental person that I tend to want to hold on to each precious stage of her life so that I never forget, but I can't. And now I know that as a mom, those memories are etched on my heart forever and ever. I couldn't forget what it felt like to hold my baby in my arms or the smell of her hair or the first time she smiled at me if I tried. This is the first time in my life where I'm not so focused on the
destination that I miss the journey. Perhaps motherhood is God's way of
reminding me that the journey is actually the best part. All I can do is be present every day. And count my blessings on each one of her ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes.

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Moms… what do you miss the most about when your kids were babies?

Linnea vs. Shiloh

I went to a dear friend's baby shower this past weekend and LJ had to accompany me since Cody had to work (on a Saturday. Bleh). While there, LJ got her first celebrity look-alike comment: Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. So I looked her up and I couldn't resist:

Shiloh-jolie-pitt-closeup

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Kinda weird.

I don't know… here I thought she was just the spitting image of her dad… who is apparently the new Brad Pitt look-alike! Only without the wife-cheating and seventeen out-of-wedlock children.

Tea time with Hippo.

Earlier this week I got to visit with my dear friend from college, Iku, who lives in Japan and visits the states every couple of years. We went to La Grande Orange for breakfast where we spied the cutest little stuffed hippo! After we ate, LJ decided to be a fussy monkey, so I picked her up and walked her around the grocer to check out all the fun and original items they have for sale there. I picked up the hippo and made silly voices and she immediately started giggling, she loved it so much. Well, Iku, being as sweet as can be, observed this from our table, and when I went outside with LJ, Iku snatched up the hippo and sneakily bought it for her. She came out with it and was like, "I got this for the baby!" and it was just the sweetest thing!

Iku is such a joy to spend time with and I love that whenever she comes to town she always lets me know so we can get together and catch up. And she always brings me the yummiest Japanese candy! I last saw her two years ago right after Cody and I got married… and I was so happy she got to meet LJ while she's still a wee one. Here's a couple of photos of the two of them together:

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Yesterday, LJ had tea time with Hippo.

IMG_1415 Cute…
IMG_1429 Cute…
IMG_1448 CUTE!