Positively Panicked

In my life, anxiety and adventure go hand in hand.

To the Dog I Got Before Having a Child

to my dog

Dear dog I got before having a child,

I begged for you for years when I still lived at home. It wasn’t until I got my wisdom teeth out (and a dry-socket), that I was able to sweet talk my Dad into getting me a pity dog. You were eight weeks old when I brought you home. And, though I swore it wouldn’t happen, you spent the first night snuggled in bed next to me. That’s where you have slept ever since.

baby belle

The first year, I bought every single ridiculous toy, treat and accessory that neither of us ever needed. You managed to completely demolish 4 phone cables, 5 pairs of shoes, a brush, every dog toy, 11 stuffed animals, a purse, 6 tubes of lipstick, your leash, collar, carrier and a chair. However, you were housebroken in record timing and pretty darn adorable with your one floppy ear so I forgave you. Your favorite playmate was a kitten nextdoor. The two of you were exactly like Milo and Otis. We took long walks, I carried you in a bag like Paris Hilton, and brought you absolutely everywhere.

belle and mommy

Over the next several years, we moved from Texas to Tennessee to New York and back to Tennessee (with a brief hiatus when I moved to Albania). You were one of the worst travelers ever. You never ever fell asleep in the car. You preferred to run around and whine. You chewed through three very expensive carriers on planes and almost got Zoey kicked off of a flight. She had to lie and tell the attendant you were her emotional support dog, which was a bold lie, considering you were crying and barking the entire time. There was also an incident where you lost two claws in an escalator at H&M. Boy, you can be a handful. However, you always adjusted. You learned to love the snow, pee on concrete, play with other dogs (kind of), shop in fancy stores, love new people and always remain loyal to us.

belle in a coat

When you were seven years old, I found out I was expecting. You were going to be a “big sister”. I was SO excited to see how you would respond to the baby. Would you be loving, protective, nurturing, excited, curious or playful? (No. You were none of those.) Before having Luna, I used to hold you and cry. I was so worried that you would feel left out or forgotten. I would tell you over and over what was going to happen and that we would always love you. I knew things would change, but I didn’t quite know how much.

big sister belle

Luna is now two and you are now ten. You are currently snuggled up under my elbow as I type this, and I just want to apologize. I am sorry for what I said when I was sleep deprived. There may have been times I threatened your life and home when you almost (or successfully) woke the baby. I never meant it. I would never actually drive you to the animal shelter or have your barker removed.  I’m sorry I lied and told you things wouldn’t change. You are always on the back burner…your walks, baths, vet visits, flea medication and sometimes even dinner are either forgotten, late or last on our list. Thankfully, Luna gives you at least half of all of her meals. I am not half the owner I was two years ago, and I am sorry.

Luna and Belle Feeding belle

Yet, you still love me most. You are always happy to see me, only sleep in the nook of my knees, listen best to my commands, will walk and run many miles with me, insist on licking me on the mouth (you could actually let that one go) and still love me unconditionally.  I’m certain that only a dog has the capacity to love so unconditionally, well or a God, but you catch my drift… anyways, no other human can possibly be so loyal. Thank you Belle, you are truly a girl’s best friend. I may accidentally leave you  in the backyard and let Luna walk you on the leash (even though I know you hate it), but I love you. and I’m really glad you put up with my shotty behavior. Happy tenth birthday and may we have many more together!

me and belle

Love,

Your Mom

P.S. Could you maybe at least pretend to like Luna? Other than when she’s holding food? She is my daughter, you know.

resting Belle

Flying on the Zoo’s New Eagle

the nashville zoo's soaring eagle

Have I ever mentioned how much I love living in Nashville?  I have said it to so many people, so many times, but this city has it all. Sure, I miss Texas, New York, Florida and even Albania, but no other city compares to Nashville (and it’s surrounding suburbs).  I’m always looking for new adventures in this town full of excitement and luckily I’ve made friends with people who actually invite me to come try some of Nashville’s newest thrills. Last week, I got invited to try the Nashville Zoo’s newest ride: The Soaring Eagle. It’s a zip-line that’s family friendly, goes two ways and is a really special experience.

zipline selfie

Soaring Eagle selfie!

I’m no stranger to zip-lines. We’ve zipped through the islands of Okinawa, the rain forests of Costa Rica, the towers in Franklin’s Adventure Tower and the ski slopes of Nemacolin. I thoroughly enjoy zipping quickly through and over the beautiful landscapes. There’s really nothing like it, and even though the zip-lines are always similar, the views and experiences are all unique. However, the Soaring Eagle ride is not like other zip-lines. I have never done a zip-line quite like the one at our local zoo.

soaring eagle view

First of all, it seats two people. That’s right…seats. You actually get to sit in a chair with a seat-belt like buckle with someone else. The two of you are then quickly carried backwards and up to the top of the line (110 feet in the air). After a brief pause to take in the views (the Nashville skyline, the zoo’s African Savannah, the festival field and much more), you will be released to soar back down at a 28 mph speed! It’s exhilarating, but not enough to be too scary for kids. In fact. we saw a 5 year-old girl riding with the biggest smile on her face. The scariest part is at the end when it appears you are going to have a hard landing. (You’re not BTW.)

Bella and I were lucky enough to try out the Soaring Eagle together, but Husband had to work and is dying to try it himself. Maybe next weekend during their Eggstravaganzoo?  Unfortunately, Luna isn’t tall enough to ride yet, but as soon as she reaches 42 inches, I’m certain she’ll be itching to ride. Although, who knows what new attractions the zoo will have by then…they just keep growing and growing and growing and growing. Stay tuned because we will be there for their giant egg hunt next Saturday and the grand opening of the  new entrance on April 9th.

What adventures have you been on lately?

Cheers!

Crossing the Finish Line

crossing the finish line

*This isn’t me crossing the finish line, it’s me running through Magic Kingdom and boy was it magical!

I recently ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Disney World. In fact, I actually completed the Glass Slipper Challenge…  meaning, I also ran the Disney Princess Enchanted 10k. Flashback to a year ago, and I would have told you that I would never ever ever in the history of evers consider running a half marathon. Go back two years ago, and  I would have told you you that I’d be thrilled to be able to walk a half mile. In fact, I would have been thrilled to walk downstairs in my house without starting to blackout. So, how did I get here?  Well, that was my exact thought as I ran across the finish line, hand in hand with my Husband.

When Luna was born, two years ago, I was very physically and mentally ill. My crazy blood pressure had kept me in the hospital for 10 days and the doctor had me taking 19 pills a day. Being so sick and weak after giving birth not only caught me completely off-guard (I had a textbook perfect pregnancy), but it left me feeling shocked, depressed and very anxious. I had bad PTSD that I am still battling, but I was also physically unable to do almost everything. The medications were keeping my heart rate and blood pressure so low that walking upstairs or even holding Luna while standing for too long, caused me to blackout. It was really hard. Gradually, I began to heal. My medications were lowered (a lot), my strength and energy started to return and I was beginning to come back to life. Focusing on the small victories helped a lot. At this point, I was thrilled to start going on walks and do yoga again.  In fact, a full day of grocery shopping, cleaning cooking and caring for Luna felt like crossing a finish line…a finish line that ended by crashing into my bed, and a race that began again each morning. It was a finish line that I was thrilled and grateful to continue crossing.

disney princess half marathon

By the time Luna turned one, I couldn’t even recognize the sick version of me from her birth. Yes, I was still taking blood pressure meds, but nothing could slow me down anymore. I had teamed up with my very good friend, Bella, and started exercising hardcore 6 days a week. We started with Shaun T’s Focus T25 and with each other’s continual support and encouragement (plus some friendly competition), we had completed T25, Insanity Max 30 and P90X3. To give ourselves an even bigger challenge, we signed up for a few Mud Runs. Neither of us ever ran, or even liked running,  but we needed a little challenge and a few muddy obstacle course riddled 5K’s seemed fun and even doable. Well, these Mud Runs led to regular 5K’s because we needed the practice, right? We wore matching costumes for every 5K to make them more fun and we actually began winning all the costume contests. Before Luna turned one, we not only won several costume contests, but we were placing in our age groups too!

Our most exciting 5K happened in May of 2015. We did the Expedition Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. A night run through the park  that turned into a 3 mile scavenger hunt as soon as you crossed the finish line and ended in a private party inside of Animal Kingdom and lasted until 2am.  This race was so much fun, so organized, unique and full of Disney magic that we decided right then and there that we’d be coming  back for another, bigger, better Disney run. We must have been REALLY excited because we somehow convinced ourselves to sign up for the Glass Slipper Challenge.

Over the next 9 months, we trained. We trained hard, and then…we didn’t. We were interrupted with vacations, work and illness. We’d drop off and then start again. We were riddled with shin splints, stress fractures, runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis.  We saw doctors and physical therapists, learned new exercises, cross-trained like a beast and fueled on gallons of water and coffee. We learned the importance of good running gear and sold our souls to Fleet Feet in order to purchase the best shoes, socks, leg rollers, compression sleeves and leggings. Before we knew it, it was four weeks until the race. We spent the last four weeks pushing hard, much harder than we should have. We were running further and faster than we ever had and we paid for it. Two weeks before the half-marathon, I got put in a boot. One week before, Bella seriously injured her knee. We flew to Florida crossing our fingers that some Disney magic and pixie dust would carry us over the finish line.

The weekend of the race we went to the parks all day every day. We went to bed late and got up at 4am every morning. We decided to take the 10k super easy and save up our energy and and slightly healed bodies for the half. We jogged the 6.2 miles, stopped to take a few photos and really enjoy the early morning run through EPCOT and the Boardwalk. We watched the sunrise, saw several characters, fireworks and it all felt very Disney-esque. We crossed the finish line feeling great. In fact, we all felt more confident than ever about completing the half-marathon, which brings me to the next morning.

RunDisney’s slogan is “every mile is magic”. When I first saw this phrase plastered around the memorabilia shop, I laughed because, seriously? No. “Every mile is torture” was how I felt during our training. However, when we crossed the start line with 25,000 other runners decked out in their Disney running costumes, fireworks went off and I have to admit, it felt a little magical. Then, we passed a full marching band playing and cheering us on…then a DJ who was jamming so hard she had the entire crowd raising the roof as we ran up an overpass. I was actually enjoying this. The magic continued every single mile…dozens of characters, choirs, cheerleaders, music, snacks, drinks, medication, photographers and not to mention Cinderella’s castle kept us entertained and motivated for the entire race. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t horrible either. I smiled so much during the half-marathon that my cheeks hurt. Husband and I stayed together the entire time and kept a slower pace so as not to cause any injuries to flare up.

Before we knew it, we were a mile from the finish line. At this point, we were both feeling shocked. We were actually going to do this, nothing could stop us now and each step just brought us closer to the finish. I could feel the excitement coursing through my veins as we ran passed the crowds cheering us on (which BTW makes a HUGE difference!). Husband and I kept looking at each other and saying, “We are doing this, we are actually doing this!” Then, about 100 yards from the finish we grabbed one another’s hand. We crossed the line hand-in-hand. Not only could I not stop smiling, but I couldn’t help but cry.

We crossed the finish line and slowed to a walk…our first time to walk in over 13 miles. I was flooded by emotions. Every single “finish line” prior to this one crossed my mind. From Luna’s birth to being able to walk downstairs, completing T25, to my first 5k, to my first medal, to a 10k and then this. I did it and I could not have felt more proud. I wore my medals all weekend.

We cross many “finish lines” throughout our lives. These victories are more than just an accomplishment, they are stepping stones to our next challenge. They are there to remind us that we can do hard things, that we have done hard things and each one prepares us for the next. And, those “magic miles”, well, every mile might not actually be magical, but every once in a while you’ll pass a cheerleader that will encourage to keep moving…keep your eyes on them, they are the magic. So whether the next “finish line” is at the end of a race, a number on a scale, a promotion at work, the end of the laundry pile or finally having the courage to try something new, remember the finish line’s you’ve already crossed. You’ve got this.

mommy's #1 fan

I just want her to know that if she works hard and believes in herself, anything is possible.

Cheers

 

When My Toddler Reminded Me That Love is Patient

love is patient

Husband has been sick and working from home the last couple of days. He is lucky to have a job that allows him to do this, but it is not easy to work at home when you have a toddler constantly asking you to come play. So, I’ve done my best to keep myself and Luna busy and out of the house.  After my work yesterday, I picked up Luna from Mother’s Day Out and took her to the mall. It was raining and freezing outside, so I figured we could have a good time running around the mall and maybe even get a little shopping done.  Everything was working out just beautifully….until it wasn’t.

While browsing Nordstrom’s, Luna began asking for water. And, by “asking”, I mean screaming, crying and rolling on the floor yelling “water!”. There just happens to be a little coffee bar right outside of Nordstrom’s. Perfect, Luna can get some water and I can have a coffee. While waiting in line, Luna began whining that she wanted to walk. I put her down and she immediately climbed into a chair and dropped her stuffed Goofy, right next to the chair. Being the logical toddler that she is, instead of getting off the chair and picking up Goofy, she started wailing.

The wailing began just as I was ordering our drinks. I tried telling her to get down and pick Goofy up, but she had other plans. Luna, decided to not only continue screaming, but to lie on her belly and reach over the side of the chair to try and reach Goofy. With every passing second, the screaming got louder. Then, just as I was taking my change from the barista, Luna slipped out of the chair and landed on her head. That’s when all hell broke loose.

Knowing what was coming I rushed to her to try and quiet the oncoming screams. Hell hath no fury, like an already fussy toddler that falls down. Not only was she inconsolable, she was pissed.  She refused the water, the hugs, the calming words, her Goofy, snacks…everything. She was thrashing and screaming as if I was pulling her teeth out. I tried desperately to hold both drinks, my diaper bag, the stroller, my shopping bags and my feral toddler and get out of the tiny coffee shop as quick as possible. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. within 100 feet of us had stopped what they were doing to watch, and mostly likely call CPS. At one point an older woman even came over and offered to push my stroller out. She could clearly see the sweat beads forming on my brow as the wild toddler kicked and flailed frantically in my arms.

After what felt like hours, we made it to a table outside of the shop and sat down. Luna calmed down quickly as she sat on my lap and decided to drink her water. At this point I was not only embarrassed, but angry. As I whispered in her ear how very lucky she is that we aren’t at home and took a giant swig of my latte, Luna did the most unexpected thing.

She put her hands together and said as clear as day, “Love is patient. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is kind.” She repeated this phrase over and over along with some added babble. I just stared at her wondering, a) when did she learn this little prayer? and b) how did she know I needed this subtle reminder? Also, why couldn’t she sit quietly and pray like a little cherub in the middle of the very crowded coffee shop?!?  Mostly, I stared at her in awe and tried to figure out the rest of her little prayer.

Eventually, I emailed her teacher to get the rest of the words… (said to the tune of Where is thumbkin“)

Love is patient, love is patient

Love is kind, love is kind

Always understating, always understanding

Time after time, time after time.

I sat with her, mulling over her prayer, and realized just how much parenting has taught me about true unconditional love. Sure, I may lose my patience with Luna more than I care to admit and I’m probably not always as kind as I could/should be, but I’m learning. That’s the funny thing about parenting. As parents, we spend so much of our time teaching and helping our kids learn, meanwhile, we are still growing and learning ourselves. While I do my best to teach her about life, rules, friendship, manners and going pee pee in the potty, she is in return, helping me be a more responsible, loving, understanding, patient and forgiving. It’s a beautiful relationship.

This is a memory I’m going to keep safe, right in my back pocket. I have a feeling I will need to pull out this little prayer many times of the next 16 years or so….and then some.

Cheers!

Where You Can Find Me

hello, it's me

You may have noticed I’ve been MIA on the blog for a while. (You have noticed, right?) Anyway, I plan to change that ASAP, but before I can get back to my regular blogging style, I wanted to at least give you a semi-good excuse for disappearing and also tell you where you can find me these days.

Besides all the holiday hub-bub over the last couple of months, Husband has been working an insane amount of hours, like INSANE,  for a few months now. It’s great for business, and I do not want to complain. It’s just harder than normal to find the time to do anything other than feed Luna, do laundry and keep woodpeckers from tearing our house down.

mommin' ain't easy

found this gem from Thug Life Shirts

I’ve been working part-time for a doctor also. I only work when Luna is at Mother’s Day Out, so it’s a pretty sweet deal. However, it’s become a challenge and a guilt-trip to get chores, cooking, errands, writing, anything, etc done after I pick-up Luna from school. I really don’t know how full-time working parents do it. Color me impressed. Husband, has been missing Luna so much while he is a work that he actually installed a Nest Cam in our living room so he can watch her playing. But, back to me, if you want to see some of what I do work, you can follow us on Facebook.

working hard

Working with my BFF

I’ve probably mentioned this at some point, but I’ve also been busy writing for The Nashville Mom. The Nashville Mom is a blog that began as a way to connect with other Nashville parents and share ideas, tips and great local family-friendly finds. It is locally focused, but it’s also grown a lot and offers ideas for Moms and Dads everywhere too. Here’s my latest piece.

the nashville mom

And, in case you’re curious about our latest adventures… We’ve been half-marathon training (which is life-consuming), the Zoo Run, Luna’s second birthday, a trip to Mexico, lots of snow, gymnastic classes, Husband in the New York Times, a trip to Atlanta and a lot of coffee in the midst of the fun. If you’ve missed me, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. I’ve actually managed to keep those updated!

family in mexico

Just some family fun in Playa Del Carmen

See you soon with plenty more adventures, and anxiety too!

 

Becoming a Toddler: Luna is Two

Today, Luna is two. Two years ago, was Luna’s not-so-magical arrival. In fact, it was more traumatic than magical, but definitely worth every heart-breaking moment. Then last year, after what felt like a couple of months, she turned one and it seemed as if she could not get any better. (I mean she could sleep more, but otherwise she was pretty awesome.) Today, she’s two, and boy did we both learn and grow a lot in the last 365 days.

Around Luna’s first birthday, I was in line at Starbucks when a woman with her two school-aged children behind me asked about Luna’s age. I smiled, answered and waited for the “enjoy it while it lasts” comments I typically receive, when she surprised me. She said, “Oh, well you should know, it just gets better.” I must have looked surprised because she followed up by explaining that she is always sad and a little scared about her children getting older, but each year it just gets better and more fun. It’s one of the nicest thing another parent has ever said to me and  I think of it very often.

It’s true, as all the repetitive parents’ Facebook statuses say, they grow up so fast and it is so sad! They go from baby to toddler in the blink of an eye and we are left wondering, where the hell did the time go? I refused to call Luna a “toddler” for the longest time. She’s my baby for goodness sake! I am constantly in awe of what she does and says each day. I still watch the video I made of her first year and cry. She was so little and so bald! I miss that little chunk that loved being swaddled and sang to sleep. However, that random Starbucks Mom was right… so far it has only gotten better.

Luna rocks. Two years ago, one year and even a month ago, I held her and thought she just couldn’t get any cuter/sweeter/funnier and I was wrong each time. Now, my toddler girl loves to sing and take gymnastics class. She asks me to “turn on the moosic”. Then says, “come dance Mama!” as she grabs my hand. Luna knows her GranDude, Wendy, Honey and PawPaw and asks for them by name. She has favorite characters and babies that she takes care of and puts “night night”. She begs me to “snuggle Wuna”. She loves waking up Dada in the morning, taking “dada showeis” and forcing us both to read 2,000 books every night. She may not be an infant, but she’s the world’s cutest toddler and brings us more joy and laughs than we ever imagined.

Last year, I made a video montage of Luna’s first year, and I decided I had to do another for her second year. I chose Macklemore’s Growing Up for this year’s song because a) Husband and I both love the lyrics and b) we are big Macklemore fans. I mean, how can a collaboration between Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Ed Sheeran not be the perfect song?

So, here it is…a look at Luna’s second year. The year she went from baby to toddler right before our very eyes.

Happy 2nd birthday baby girl.

Cheers

My New Favorite Rainy Day Playdate

museum playdate

While my friends from Texas were visiting we spent the majority of our time finding cool local activities that not only entertained, us but also entertained our toddlers. There seem to be unlimited outdoor activities and locations that keep both adults and kids’ attentions alike. The struggle was when the weather was too cold or rainy and we had to find an indoor location to explore. One popular Nashville attraction that really surpassed our expectations was the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

children's room at the frist

We arrived on a rainy weekday morning expecting the worst and hoping for the best with our little ones. Both were already acting fussy and we all assumed taking tots to an art museum was a disaster waiting to happen. As we entered the exhibits on the first floor they were mostly calm. The kids seemed happy as we strolled them around. Sure, there was talking and a few excited bursts, but overall, they were good. In fact, no one else seemed to mind their chitter chatter either.

mommy daughter at art museum

However, boredom set in quickly, and we decided to head upstairs to the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. This is the children’s gallery and it is the bomb. It is a really large interactive space with 30 hands-on stations. Your kids (and yourself!) can make so many unique creations. My friends, myself and our kids definitely spent the majority of our time here, and I don’t regret one second of it.

painting at the frist

Luna LOVED painting, coloring, drawing, playing with the kaleidoscope computer program and building with the magnetic blocks. Her buddy, Orion even made a fancy stop-motion dinosaur movie. There is just so much to do for everyone of all ages. You can make prints, collages, learn about patterns and textures, and the stations change periodically so it’s not like you’ll get bored with more visits.

luna learning to draw

We really loved our visit and were so thankful it turned out to be a great rainy day activity for us and the kids. I’ll be putting the Frist in my list of “what to do this winter with Luna “. Oh and BTW their cafe has some yummy food, but you can also pack your owm lunches to eat I’m the cafeteria.

What do you guys plan to do in the rainy/cold/snowy days this season?

Taking My Toddler To See Ice at Opryland

ice at opryland

Ice! is back in Nashville as a part of Opryland’s Country Christmas festivities. This year’s theme? The Nutcracker. Dates? Now through January 2nd. Am I about to review this year’s experience? Yup. Did I love it, like I love most Nashville adventures and events? Nope. And here’s why…

ice featuring the nutcracker

We have been to Ice! a million times (approximately). We love it. Every year gets better. They’ve added colored ice, more slides, more rooms, a bigger gift shop, more food, a train ride, ice skating and the list goes on and on. It’s been a fun holiday tradition of ours and we typically take out of town friends and family with us. Which, is a big reason why this year was extra disappointing.

nutrcacker ballerina ice

 

It was so very short. It took us 15 minutes max to get through (and that’s with looking at everything AND Luna getting stuck on the slide and having a major meltdown). The worst part? It costs $27/adult and comes with nothing, but your pass to see Ice. We had to pay an extra $3 for our tots to ride the tiny train that goes in a circle. Honestly, they would have been beyond thrilled had we just done that and skipped the ice exhibit.

ice slide opryland

Don’t get me wrong, the ice is beautiful! The ballerina sculptures are some of the best work I’ve seen over the years. I took some extra time to soak up the details in their carefully carved costumes. Perhaps, that’s why it’s so much shorter this year? I don’t know, but it was clear to us veterans that this year’s exhibit was missing a lot. What’s worse, is that our friends, who have never been, came out asking “Is that it?”

train ride

Look, I love Opryland this time of year. The decorations and lights inside the hotel are totally worth the traffic and the parking. You can walk around for hours with the whole family, for free. I just can’t recommend you spend your money on Ice! this year… I just can’t. Even though, I will still go back next year with hopes that it will be back to it’s normal magical experience. I’ll let you know how it goes.

mommy daughter

Anyone else attempt Ice! this year?

Cheers!

Cheekwood has LIGHTS (and reindeer)!

 

cheekwood holiday lights

In the past month we have been to Chattanooga, Memphis, Texas and are currently (this very moment) on the way to Georgia. In the midst of all the road trips we also had some of our favorite friends come spend a week with us in Nashville. It’s been so crazy here that I haven’t had much spare time to share our ridiculous adventures. So, here I am, writing in the passenger’s seat, hoping to share some of the crazy with you!

While our friends were here we hit up A LOT of Nashville holiday attractions. The one I was most excited about was Cheekwood’s Holiday LIGHTS. I don’t know how we have never been before, but going with my guests seemed like just the right time to check it out. After all, I love showing off my town to visitors!

friends and lights

We arrived not long after it opened on the “Member’s only” night. I naively assumed this would be a slow night (and maybe it was). However, I was not prepared for the crowd. We had to park pretty far away, not that I mind. I’m always excited to get more steps on my fitbit. After hiking to the entrance with strollers and diaper bags in tow, we were immediately swept up in the holiday feels… lights everywhere, carols playing, hot chocolate being served and a chill in the air. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…

Both toddlers were happily riding a long and taking in the lights. We strolled the sidewalks and followed the arrows that told us exactly which way to go to see all the hot spots. We packed pb&j’s and snacks to hold the kids over when they got a little hungry (worked like a charm) and mostly kept them entertained with all the pretty lights.

lights on the water

Sadly, Santa is only visiting Cheekwood on weekends, so we missed him. Also, I hate to say it, but the reindeer were a real disappointment. Maybe it’s because I was a little too excited about seeing them? Maybe it was that they were in a gated area, surrounded by a second gate? Or, maybe they just looked like really sad reindeer? Either way, it was not the magical reindeer photo op I thought it would be.

reindeer

poor sad reindeer

Luna had two favorite things. One, being the giant poinsettia tree inside the mansion. I could not pull her away. She insisted on leaning against it and saying “Cheeeeeeese!” over and over and over again. She is in at least 15 other families’ photos. Her most favorite part? The train. Oh em gee….the outdoor train set at Cheekwood is so cool! The whole set is amazing. It’s all made with things found in nature. The train itself has real bells and whistles and will keep Luna’s attention FOREVER.

luna and the tree looking at trains

If you plan on checking on the LIGHTS and Holiday events  be sure to bring some cash for cookies and drinks, coats, gloves, hats and your camera! I forgot gloves for Luna and the poor baby told me “Mama, cold hands” on repeat the last ten minutes we were there. Of course, if I had remembered to bring them she never would have worn them. Oh the joys….

merry christmas

LIGHTS runs every night from 5pm-10pm (except Christmas), until January 3rd!

lights at cheekwood

What holiday lights will you be checking out this year?

Cheers!

Lowering My Expectations

lowering my expectations

I have a habit of creating incredibly fantastic scenarios in my head of how every future plan will unfold. I enjoy making plans, packing, writing itineraries and most of all imagining the perfect happiest family memories being made. Let me invite you into my imaginary perfect family holiday traditions for a moment….

It’s a chilly Saturday morning..we wake to a happy toddler talking and smiling in her crib. I have coffee. After a lovely, home-made enormous organic breakfast, we leave the house dressed in adorable winter attire, with perfectly coiffed hair and a flawlessly contoured face. We arrive to the tree farm, still happy, still adorable. Husband and I take turns taking photos of Luna picking out a tree. We cut it down together, laugh at our attempts to tie it to the roof of our car and end the trip with hot cocoa by the fire while listening to Christmas carols. Then, of course, I’d write a sweet little blog post about our adorable family outing. 

Sounds nice, right? Now, let’s take a stroll down real-life lane…join me?

We are out of town every single weekend. Husband is working 12 hour days. Balancing a part-time job, writing and Luna is complicated. Shit keeps happening and between bug infestations, insurance problems, oil changes and parties, I can’t find time to wash clothes. So, after work and school yesterday, Luna and I drive to Kroger to get groceries. As I leave, I notice the $30 trees on the sidewalk and realize this may be my only moment to get a tree. I let Luna help pick one out and a teenage boy helps me shove it into my car (because the back was already full of groceries and a stroller). It is raining the entire time.

Picking out our tree was not at all how I imagined it. And, getting it out of the car and carrying it up stairs was REALLY not how I imagined it. But, look at Luna’s face while we looked at trees…

picking out a tree

She is so happy. She loved the trees. She laughed at me while I tried to carry it upstairs. She yelled “uh oh Mama mess!” as it toppled over when I tried to attach the stand. She could seriously care less where the tree came from or how we got it. The only thing missing from our tree-getting trip was Husband, but he’ll be there to decorate it.

picking out a tree at Kroger

Sometimes, almost all the time, life does not turn out as I plan. Because of my super high expectations, I am often disappointed. However, as time passes, and as Luna grows, I am learning that the unexpected moments are often the most memorable. And, also that, when it comes to making precious little memories with my family the only thing that matters is them…not our perfect outfits, hair, photos, location or plans. Having each other, a sense of humor and the right attitude is really all we need.

prius with a Christmas tree

Cheers

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