May 10, 2017

An (almost) Mother's Day Tribute to my MamaTribe.

This month was mental health awareness month, and a few weeks ago was specially noted as maternal and postpartum mental health awareness.  Now, even five years removed from the hardest days with Sienna, I still sometimes feel hesitant about discussing those heavy times. They were days of adjustment and they were so arduous. Being a new mom was tiring, and anxiety provoking, and I vividly remember the tears streaming down my face in the shower from pure exhaustion and confusion as week six of Sienna's life approached- on the edge of the return to working life, both craving the feeling of using my brain and problem solving and eating lunch alone and dreading the reality of being away from my new beautiful baby. My mom, of course, knew me better than myself, and made sure to take really good and gentle care of me. You know how they say children need one consistent loving caregiver? So do new moms. My mom was mine. My mom friends who knew about how hard newborn days were comforted me,  but I didn't know what exactly was going on in the process. In retrospect it was postpartum anxiety. See, I wasn't depressed; I wasn't feeling sad or wishing away my baby; I was just lost and overwhelmed. If the clock hit 2:16 and nap time was supposed to start at 2:15 I unraveled. If I had to wake up an extra time or two at night, I spent hours thinking about what could possibly be wrong (to be fair, my friends and I still send ridiculous texts of this variety, and just last week I exhaled, laughed, and said to a fellow mama- this is so crazy, we never actually know what's going on), and I had most gorgeous chunky baby ever but it didn't prevent me from struggling. I was. I did. And then it passed. The sun came out and the clouds parted and around six months, Sienna and I found our groove together and became best buddies; we haven't turned back. 

Then, summer of 2014 rolled around, and I had a second kiddo. I learned my weaknesses and knew how to navigate the rocky waters of the early days- and when the rocky waters were becoming sink holes. I saw that therapist when Piper was refusing to nurse. I said yes to Zoloft in the early months. I had a lactation consultant at my house at 9pm when feeding was going terribly wrong. I made appointments, I got out of the house. I let my husband hold the baby even when she was crying and put in ear plugs and took naps. I juggled two babies better than I did one. I pumped at I accepted meals.I accepted help. I accepted breaks when I needed them. I still worried, I still felt the edginess creeping up, but I used the best tools I knew to get it back down. 

And then... there was this tool I wasn't expecting that fell into my lap even more the second time around. Three of my friends from grad school had babies close to when I had Piper, and our group text, fondly named "3AM Nursers" rose to the top of my scrolling list every day. I joined a local mom's group. I forged friendships. I talked about things honestly. I listened to other moms' struggles. It felt normal. So... normal. These people held my baby, brought me food, called to check on me, delivered Starbucks and brought me new nursing bras. They amused Sienna when she was adjusting to this whole bizarre new big sister role. They reached out far more than I expected or deserved. The best part is- They STILL do this. Two and a half years into motherhood 2.0, these people haven't backed down or let up. I formed this mom tribe, and I continue to pluck people into this circle of women to join as I go along. It is amazing that when I send a text saying I need a break, or complaining about something that happened, I get one back quickly and promptly, likely fired off while holding a baby in their arms and cooking a meal... to the tune of "Don't worry, my kid ate eggos with marshmallows for breakfast", "Whatever preschool you choose will be the best", "My nanny was late too- and so was I".... and the most honest diatribes via the tap-tap-tap of fingers on the iphone arriving to my message inbox, "I yelled and now I feel bad", "I think i need more sleep before I lose my mind", "There's vomit all over me"... or simply "me too". 

Mom tribes are not only important, in my (short) motherhood experience, they've been this essential piece I never knew I was missing until I built it. I am confident that at any of the twenty four hours in the day, I can reach someone in this circle. By text, by phone, by FB post. They are there. They are at my fingertips. They are in the trenches with me, rolling to cover me as a proverbial explosion goes off, and giving me their hand to pull me up in the aftermath, all while wiping off their own dirt. So during this mother's day week, I say to all you mama friends out there- you surely know who you are. I love you, I appreciate you, I am eternally grateful for you. I hope you're spoiled and celebrated. I know how hard you work and you deserve it. 

And thank you, from the tips of my toes to the lengths of my fingertips for making motherhood better. I'm humbled to surround myself with you. 

January 16, 2017

Dear Daughters... On the 2016 Presidential Election.

Dear Sienna and Piper, 

I have had a hard time coming up with what to write here. Sometimes this blog is a place to put our home renovations, and look back at how far we've come as a family. Sometimes it's a place to remember your birthdays, or just some funny things that happened. But that's not all it is and not all it's intended for.

All along, it's also been a place where my heart comes when it's hurting. It's a piece of history for you two. I hope that years from now, you can show your daughters and grand daughters this blog. I hope this one, specifically, resonates with them. I haven't written personally about the 2016 presidential election, aside from social media postings. I've really struggled with what to say. But I want to leave this here for you. Friday is the presidential Inauguration, and this week feels especially poignant. 

I think about the fact that your Gigis, great grandmothers, were alive during World War II. They tell me stories, but there's no blog to read- and I wish there was. When they do talk about the war, or history in general, I am always intrigued. They add so much value to the conversation. Never take for granted generations above you telling you about their lives. It's rich and full of goodness. Personal accounts are so very valuable to understanding the past. 

When I was little, Grandma and Grandpa did a really good job of talking about a lot of things with me and Uncle Matt. We lived in a relatively diverse (albeit upper middle class) town where I went to as many Bat Mitzvahs as I did church services some years. I had friends that were from different backgrounds. Grandma told me on a regular basis to be kind to people- to include people- and to stop judging people when I started (even if it was just gossiping with high school friends; that was never looked upon fondly in our house and grammy was often seen rolling her eyes and saying sweetly "girlssss" when we started to chatter). Your grandma and grandpa are not super left or super right, they are just super full of doing what's right and their votes go wherever they think that lies. I came out of the gate volunteering, fighting for human rights, and knowing that inclusive environments are a win. Politically, an ex boyfriend once called me a bleeding heart liberal. Probably true- but I am not as left leaning as some think. The thing for me is, humanity is at the heart of so many political arguments. If you are taking away someone else's ability to do things, you're infringing on their rights, and their ability to experience humanity without the boundaries the rest of us avoid. So if that make me a bleeding heart, then sure, you can call me that. 

On November 8, 2016, Election Day 2016 arrived. I woke up excited, and a little nervous. I got dressed and threw on my favorite t-shirt, "Feminism is the radical concept that women are people", and asked you, Sienna, to get dressed too. You came out in heart pants saying, "Love Wins". I didn't tell you to put those pants on, but I was proud. It was sunny and relatively warm for November. We drove to the polling place, you came into the booth with me, and we hit the button for the first female presidential nominee together, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Afterwards, we went to the playground and got a coffee. I dropped you off with your nanny, Martha, and you two squealed happily playing while mama worked. And watched. On election night, this thing happened around 9pm. Mommy's friend Sarah was texting her and said "New York Times just gave Trump a 50% chance of winning". It was then that the tears started. Later, I saw a man come out of a voting booth on the news saying, "A woman can't actually be president". I knew then that this election was not going to go in favor of Hillary, a woman who has given her life to service. I watched at 3am as they announced Donald Trump as president elect. I listened to Alicia Keys 'Holy War' and cried in the shower getting ready for work the next day. That morning, you played pirates. Sienna you were talking to Piper, but you said, "We lost the ship but don't worry, the good guys are still together!" Your words stuck with me. Social media posts and texts from friends I love and admire (republicans and democrats alike, for the record) echoed the feeling of being shell shocked. The grief was real- but we had to keep moving. 

This week President Elect Donald Trump will take the highest office of the United States. Before he was elected, he fought a campaign against Hillary Clinton. The first woman to ever secure a major party nomination for president. A woman who helped all children get health insurance. A woman who was Secretary of State, who has met dignitaries all over the world. A woman who would fight for children's and women's rights. (To those that will criticize this- yes I know she has her faults and no I didn't ignore them- listening to the Benghazi trial and watching her testify about emails is anything but ignorant). And, much to my dismay, he won. That does NOT mean a woman can't be president- it means the US didn't vote her as president. It doesn't mean that you or one of your friends won't one day hold the highest office. It does mean it's harder for a woman, but that's not a reason to give up the fight. 

To be fair, there's still  a lot of good out there. Even after this election, my belief in goodness is unwaivering. (And just so we are historically correct- 3 million votes actually favored Hillary. The people of America gave her their votes, even if the electoral college didn't.) So, why did people vote for Trump and why is your mom still confused by it? Some days, it continues to blow my mind. Donald Trump had a campaign that spoke to people and motivated them, in ways that confused- and sometimes horrified- me  People supported a man who really played into sexism, racism, bigotry, a man who belittled a reported who has a condition that makes movements difficult, and who tweeted at 3 am if anyone dare make a negative comment about him. Some voted for Trump because they felt he was the lesser of two evils. Some felt like the Clintons were too corrupt.  Fear was rampant. Some didn't like Hillary's issues with email servers and felt that she couldn't keep our nation secure. Some let greed and need get the best of them (taxes will absolutely be better for the wealthy under Trump).  Some stood by their religious and spiritual convictions (pro-life friends just couldn't vote for someone who believed in abortion rights).  Some felt like basic needs weren't being met or understood by the "elitist liberal" party.  People expect Trump to bring big change- I think in a way that people expected with Obama. They wanted something different. Many Americans were saying, "This polarizing two party stuff isn't working for us", and we will vote for a person less qualified to take office rather than continue to support it. In other words, we have voices and we want to be heard! That's how America works. By people being allowed to vote and speak and act.  That is the good part, my girls. You each have a voice- don't be afraid to use it. 

As much as I stand up for what I believe in, little ones, I don't want to draw lines in the sand so harshly that they become walls I can't step over.  Our political system, on a whole, has room for improvement. There are changes that need to be made on both side of the aisle. Working together is something people with different mindsets have a difficult time with, but there's always hope we can change for the better. If we just cut ties with people who disagree with us, we all lose. Be courageous. Listen to, and then challenge other people's views- and more importantly, challenge your own. Find good sources and then- read, listen, seek out more information. Work on putting yourself in other people's shoes. Understanding other people is so important- if we didn't learn that this from the election, what did we learn? Maybe we also learned to fight the small battles- grassroots and volunteer efforts matter. Put your time where your heart is. 

On Friday, Trump takes office. I'll continue to mourn this choice of Americans, but I can't help but hope for success too. People talk about Trump being impeached; I am not sure, even as a card carrying Hillary supporter, this is optimal. People talk about him making horrific global decisions- I don't want another world war. I don't want more people to suffer. I want there to be bipartisan efforts to truly tackle hard topics- and to support humanity (and our earth) across the globe. I want checks and balances, and a country that I continue to be proud of. A country that protects and provides and gives opportunities. 

On November 9th, the day after election day, I got up and kissed daddy and your sweet faces. I drank my steaming coffee that daddy put next to my night stand, after he hugged me and shook his head.  I turned on the shower and slipped under the water as my hot tears melded with the droplets pouring over my head. My iphone was playing Alicia Keys' ballad as I tried to wash the stress away. I kept reminding  myself- I voted the day before for a woman for President of the United States. I  put on my clothes, grabbed my bag, and drove to work as a successful woman and mother. This is all privilege I sometimes take for granted- and I know there are other free countries in this world-  but I'm grateful to live in America. So don't get me wrong; this is a truly good place to live. It continues to be a land of dreams. A land where not everyone has equal rights, but we can hope and work towards that reality. Our successful future depends on all of us- we get to vote and speak our mind. On Saturday, I'll join some awesome college friends, and go to the Women's March on Washington. I feel lucky to be able to peacefully be present. To have this chance. I'm thankful you'll have these chances, too. 

You have voices, and passion, and power to change the world a little at a time. This election cycle was certainly a low point in our country.  But it's not the end and hope continues to keep me afloat.  Last night, I watched an episode of the TV show, Black-ish. I wonder if it will even be on TV anymore by the time you're old enough to read this. Anthony Anderson, an actor on the show, gave a brilliant monologue within the half hour show, and then his closing really spoke to me. There is no limit to what you can do. So I'll leave you with this- and hope that one day when you look back on these writings, we have come so much further. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to raise beautiful children in a world that showed them Jay Z and BeyoncĂ© as king and queen, a black family in the White House, and a woman run and almost win the presidency of the United States. So if you ask me if I love America, the answer is yes. Warts and all. Can it be better? I hope so. And I hope that we as a people have it in us to come together and make lemonade out of our lemons.”

I love you two more than anything, and you can always make lemonade.


September 27, 2016

A new (house) chapter...

A new home for us. Closing in less than a week. This feels so bittersweet. Maybe in the long run this won't feel so impactful, but as we sit under contract for a new house, thoughts of leaving our current house take over- and memories are so tangible it feels like I can reach out and touch them.

This house, 2260, is the place Jamie and I built our life up to this point.  I remember house hunting with Jamie despite the fact that I wasn't going to actually live there. I was just a blearly eyed post manayunk night out grad student who was helping her boyfriend narrow down the options. I sipped hot coffee and put my feet up on the heater of the car every time we emerged from a different house, as we searched during some cold winter months. Jamie and I broke up briefly during my second year of grad school, and in those short weeks Jamie finalized the purchase of the home. We weren't "officially" together, but J still messaged me (via myspace; we are old) the day he realized the pipes had exploded in this place. He and his dad went to work, tearing apart the bathroom before he could even move in.  Our time apart wasn't long, and I soon was alongside Jamie helping with everything from refinishing hardwood floors to tiling bathrooms. We often spent our evenings here on the couch eating dinner off of home depot boxes while watching whatever would keep us awake post renovations. When Jamie broke his leg mid-renovations, he had to sleep on the pull out couch and we spent so many hours watching Dukes of Hazzard and eating take out. I still laugh thinking about the CEO of his company strolling through the door (ah ING Direct, the good old days) in our haphazard environment.

Before I left for residency year in Ohio, it was this house's front door I walked through to hear music playing. I walked down the stairs to see Jamie on one knee, hand made signs behind him, because that's what my family does for big occasions. It was this house we walked into the morning after our wedding, flopping on the couch with the newly adorned JWM monogrammed pillows, before leaving for our honeymoon. We started new chapters here.

We called 2260 the Dog House when J moved in. There were some serious scratches on the floors and the not-so-faint smell of canine lingering. We whirled through renovations from the second that house was a home and we haven't stopped. I cannot even count the number of projects, big and small we tackled together.  From refinishing hardwood floors to tearing out and replacing full bathrooms to having friends help finish bathroom floors to putting in some major decorating time this house was our baby for a long time. Every room was either gutted and painted, finished, organized. We renovated a kitchen and turned it into a dreamy space.  We updated the "man cave" which has since become a play space. We gave the guest room some major sprucing up (including a DIY headboard, turned this into usable space for our cat,  We also had to treat our cats with prozac because they were crazy, and give one up for adoption. Jamie and my dad rebuilt our deck, we made this room into a cool office, and then... into a nursery.

And life changed.  Our sweet Sienna arrived. Maybe more than anything else, my heart feels like it's going to burst when I think of the day we walked through the door with Sienna. My mom and dad had a pink wreath waiting on the door.  Our house had a certain smell those first few weeks with my girl (probably breast milk and baby poop). I will always remember sinking into our couches downstairs and watching TV while nursing, and Jamie walking through that front door every.single.night ready to take her from me for awhile. Our family room was our sanctuary, and our house became even more of our home. It was in this house that I got the call (I was sitting in the kitchen holding Sienna waiting for my mom's name to pop up on my newish iphone) that Stella was born, an instant buddy for Sienna. We learned about being parents, and staying up all night, and loving more than we thought we ever would know how. Sienna turned 6 months, and then ONE, and then two, and three, and four in this place.

Then, we announced the upcoming arrival of baby sister. I almost can't remember the house without Piper in it. Piper Emily waltzed into this world (very quickly) and got blogged about entirely less than Sienna, mostly because I was super busy but also because  instagram came into my life. When we arrived home with P, Sienna was so excited she could barely contain herself. There she was, sitting on the front brick steps in her bright turquoise dress. Almost squealing she was smiling so hard. There's more pictures of P but less words, though I did a six month post, so there's that... Piper taught me that sometimes being a mom means things won't go as I plan and also that your heart grows when you have two kids. Sienna learned she has a built in BFF.

This house was also my place of comfort when things weren't so lovely. I remember after I matched in Ohio and faced the prospect of being away from Jamie, I crawled into bed there and cried eating birthday cake ice cream. There was the day my cell phone rang on the way to work with my dad telling me my grandfather passed away, when I left early - and found myself sitting in the kitchen- sun streaming in despite a cold day, with tea looking at photos of him at my wedding. I remember the day I got word that my good mama friend Sam  passed away, after having Piper, holding a newborn in my carrier and the tears flowing as I sat myself right in the middle of my kitchen floor. The house itself, of course, didn't change these things or make them better, but it was always a good soft place to fall, because we made it that way.

Now, we have a four year old and a two year old. They circle this house like it's a track.  Our girls footsteps in the hallway make me laugh. Piper constantly runs instead of walks and I frequently overhear Sienna saying "Umm Piper! You can't go on that top bunk alone!" Our whole house is the girls' playground at this point.  The backyard is their haven and they exclaim "Let's go to the fishies!" when they want to tumble down the back hill into the woods and run to the stream down their explorer path. Goodness how we will miss the stream and it's hot day reprieve from the humidity, with wildlife and water and mud- everything a kid could ever want.

They will love more space- and I'll love to not step on kid bath toys when I take a shower. I know it's time and am thrilled at the prospect of a better elementary school for our kids, another great yard, and more square footage. Still, the bittersweet factor is kicked up a notch when I think about the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this home.

This house  has been everything to us. It's where Jamie slipped the cushion cut diamond ring on my finger, the doorway we entered after we exchanged I do's, the quiet place we brought newborn Sienna into cautiously, and where Piper made our family whole. This home will always have a piece of my heart. Call me sentimental if you will, but thank you house for helping us make all these times exude joy and sorrow and love, and laughter and tons of baby tears, and for accompanying us through some of the fullest years of our lives. I hope the new family who lives in this space loves it as much as we did.

{P.S. The new house is gorgeous and has tons of space for visitors and kids' toys and a two car garage and non-basement laundry room, BUT it also has bathrooms from the 1990s, the most bizarre kitchen counter you've ever seen, a shiny black ceiling fan in the master bedroom, and the need for a new deck among many other things.... so this blog may really get dusted off in  the next few years as we do projects! Stay tuned!}

August 24, 2016

T W O for Piper!

Piper turned two on Monday. It is so hard to believe two years has gone by since she joined The Walls household. I can barely remember life without her, and yet her two years went by in a super quick flash.

Blogging hasn't been on my radar as much, but it will be back in action regularly soon (stay tuned), and a birthday post for Piper seems like the best way to start it going. So in honor of my littlest pumpkin, a list of some my favorite things about you at age two Pipey.

1. Your smile. Those dimples and the way your eyes light up. (Extra points if it's after you've done something you know you shouldn't.)

2. Your intense love for horses and dogs. You would be content to ride the horses at Meem and Pop's house or pet Ginger, our neighbors dog, all day long. Again and again.

3. The way you know what you want, and how to get it.

4. The way you say tickle daddy! and attack him every single night- especially before bed time when you're supposed to be winding down.

5. You're incredibly physically capable- you can climb on things on the playground with the four year olds and not bat an eyelash.

6. The fact that you can blow your own nose. This is sort of astounding!

7. You run everywhere. It is almost as if walking isn't in your repertoire of movement and you expect to go fast or faster. Nothing else.

8. Your face when you swing and say "push higher mama!"

9. How hard you play- how hard it is to calm down-  and how hard you sleep when your day is done.

10. You already have a preference for specific shoes. Girl after my own heart. Sorry we don't have red shoes as you requested this morning; I'll work on that.

11. I love how spunky you are. Some may call it terrible twos, but you are just the most hilarious kid when you have tantrums and I often find myself giving daddy, grammy, and grandpa a stern look to get them to stop laughing at your antics.

12. Huggies are your favorite. And mine too.

13. Those pacifiers. You call them bobbies and you adore them. They are your best buddies sometimes and it is adorable. Let people say they will screw up your teeth, you can keep them awhile, my girl.

14. Your love of "ice peam" aka ice cream.

15. The way you idolize Sienna and want to have every.single.toy. she has. I realize that it's frustrating for you, but it is also adorable. Sienna tries her best to share, too. You guys are the cutest little friends.

16. Cuddling with you every morning and after nap when mama's lap is the only place you think is good enough to sit. (Totally fine with me!)

17. The fact that you say you miss people you love. Specifically, missing "wee wa" or Olivia, is my favorite. You are only two but you already know who your people are.

18. Your love for the beach and the ocean- and new places - and for learning constantly. I know all kids like to learn, but you are a special breed of curiosity.

19. The way you talk. The sweetest little voice. It melts my heart. When you are being rocked in your chair at night, you always look up and say "mommy? mommy?' a few times just to check I am there before snuggling in.

20. You are already empathetic. When Sienna is hurt you run over and say "Nanni, it otay!" and rub her back until she calms down. You pat my arm when I am holding you and the other day gave me a kiss on the foot after I stubbed my toe. I am not sure if we teach you this, or if it's just part of you, but I'm thankful you've got this gift.

We love you beyond your wildest imagination, our sweet little firecracker!! Happy Second Birthday, baby girl!

Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk: July 2016

Avalon August 2016

Avalon August 2016

Morning relaxing on my Birthday! 

Cake on my Birthday!

Being a total ham and making sure Sienna doesn't cut me out of the photo! 

Lemonade Stand with Sienna, August 2016

July 28, 2016

Rehoboth Beach Week!

We spent fourth of July week in Rehoboth with Jamie's family. Fourth of July week in Rehoboth means glow sticks and necklaces and fireworks and sandy feet and Sienna shouting, "I love Americans!" on the beach at 9pm. It also means tons of cousin time, bike rides, walks to the park, feeding turtles, building a bazillion different sand castles and digging holes (that J gets in trouble for from the life guard for being too deep...)

Beach Week at the cottage has morphed so much since the first time we took Sienna there, when she was a mere 4 months old with her chubby rolls sticking out of her bathing suit. It now means that the kids play- dare I say this- somewhat independently, and that eating dinner is a chore that interrupts pretend play and building forts on the porch. Piper was old enough this year to join in the fun, though she needed someone to "up me" aka pick her up and cuddle her every once in awhile when the big kids were going too fast or too loud for her liking. Either way, it's so nice to see the bonds these girls have formed with their cousins. Sienna and Hazel are pretty much glued together, but Sienna stated quite clearly on our way home that Keller is her very kindest best frend and often wanted to climb up on the couch and put her head on his shoulder in the morning. Pipey is equally enamored with both cousins, and you can easily win her over by playing babies with her or being the one to hand her a snack.

This summer is flying by and we are loving all the outdoor time that comes with it.  We can handle the heat when it means kids giggling and going to bed with sunkissed noses and sandy sheets.

Until next year beach week....

February 2, 2016

A heavy heart

Last weekend we got around 2 feet of snow. Two feet of lovely, white, soft snow blanketed the oddly blooming plants from previous warm spells. It shut down streets, towns, businesses. It gave us rules: don't go out unless you have to; be with your family; take care of the young and elderly. I followed the rules, but as usual, felt a little stir crazy- like I wanted to get out but there was no way. The snow, unpredictable, heavy, and totally out of my control, was here. It swept in quickly, winds whipping, and left gently, a bright soft sunshine filtering in the next day.

And that's exactly how my heart and my mind felt. Heavy, out of control, and searching for that soft sunlight at the end. Four days before, I lost a friend. The day unfolded in a manner that still shocks me. From a quick facebook message, to a text, to my mom doing what she does best and swooping in to watch the girls while I rushed to the hospital, hair unwashed, frazzled to say goodbye to Tracey. She went downhill so quickly, but I like to think that there was some purpose in that. That her children, who saw her Sunday smiling, never had to witness the intense pain or the fading. I left the hospital Tuesday afternoon after holding her hand, telling her what she meant to me, and squeezing her sweet husband another time. By evening, she was gone.

The weather turned cold, the snow was on its way. Her funeral was planned for Sunday. It was almost as if, the weather and the world were reminding me of these cycles- of the bad, the good, the light that comes again. Sunday morning I knew the roads might be riddled with icey patches, snow drifts, and folks even more stir crazy than me vying to get out of their houses. But as the sun rose in the sky, and the flakes started to melt, I got in the car and went to honor Tracey's life. The almost blindingly sunny day reminded me- she's at peace now. Her pain, like the snow storm, was unfair and out of my control. But the glow of new light was enough. Enough to get me through.
That doesn't mean Tracey hasn't crossed my mind every day since then. I met Tracey during grad school, where she was two years behind me, quiet, and kind. I always listened when she talked because if she was saying something - it was well planned and heartfelt. I was lucky that fate landed us in the same working environment by the time she was a resident. And from there, we ended up friends who grew closer and confided in each other.  Our daily morning conversations made me laugh. One of us was always running late and texting the other to open the back door. When I returned from maternity leave after having Piper, she gave me her Tracey smile, and reminded me it would be okay. She was a fierce mom- and sometimes I think people who didn't know her well, didn't quite get that. She loved those kids (and Phillip) to the point their hearts might burst open. One morning, she was tired, and when I asked what was going on she laughed and said, "Oh you know, just had Lily sleep in the bouncy seat on the floor while I bounced her with my foot and let Jack sleep next to me on the couch last night... because I guess he was lonely?" She was the kind of friend I never once felt judged around. If I messed up, she waved it off. If I did something well, she told me I was amazing. People like Tracey are true rare gems. She never had to be showy, or have the attention. She just quietly was successful, loyal, and kind.

It's still not fair. To lose a friend. To feel the intense pain. For her kids to not have their mama there to hug them, though I know Tracey's amazingly sweet family will love and cherish them and show them pictures and videos and make her legacy strong. But there is some light, the sun is shining again. I am reminded that she was a believer- and as I listened to the song, "When I get where I'm going" (thanks Brad Paisley, you do no wrong), it brought tears to my eyes.  I hope my friend is at peace, and that as the days go by my memories of her remain. Her lifetime was a gift- and she taught me invaluable things- to put my kids and family before work, to shrug it off when people judge what I do if I know in my heart it's the right decision, and to be kind to everyone you come in contact with.

I'll miss you, Tracey- I hope you're up there dancing in the sunlight.


December 31, 2015

The whirlwind that was 2015.

Last year at this time, I'll admit I was exhausted and sort of stressed. A 4 month old and a 2.5 year old kept me on my toes constantly, and taking time to slow down and enjoy the holidays was a bit hard. But what a difference a year has made. I feel like we've really figured out this whole family of four thing. The year flew by and I found myself flipping through my iphone and facebook this morning reminiscing over all the things that we packed into it! So here we go, a 2015 year in review. And please note as the year went on, I got more sleep and my memory and picture taking skills increased. It was a good, good year.

We started off the new year by celebrating with friends, and tucking ourselves into bed on NYE around 10pm. Babies, toddlers, and parents never need to see the midnight hour. We spent some good family time with Stella and Olivia, Sienna discovered a whole new world of dress up, and we finally started to emerge from the newborn days. Piper's smile and ability to sit up on her own (both my kiddos seem to get the sitting thing down early but crawling took way longer). I also was really bad at taking pictures because- sleep deprivation. 

We love February in this house. It's birthday crazy month + Valentine's day and while the Hallmark holidays don't always get my vote, anything that celebrates love and being loved gets a thumbs up. My birthday rolled around and Sienna was extremely excited about the concept of cake. Cake was pretty much the theme of this month. February brought Sienna's birthday (3!) where we went to the carousel and Giggleberry at Peddler's Village, and then Sienna and Stella got the treat of a snowstorm that afternoon that left sledding as the only necessary play opportunity the next day. Piper also turned 6 months and entered my favorite stage of baby-dom. 


March usually marks the end of winter, and the gateway to spring: St. Patrick's Day celebrations. It also marked days of sunshine where we got out of the house. Sienna, Piper, and I did a LOT of playground time. The swings became P's favorite activity. Piper also decided to roll and climb and move all over her crib and that photo was before we lowered the crib. We celebrated a (quiet) St. Patrick's day at my parents house. We reveled in the fact that spring... was around the corner. Notably, in March, Piper was sick on and off a LOT. I was losing sleep and my mind, but I thankfully did not document that process via photos. 

Sweet Stella's birthday is actually the last weekend in March, but it was celebrated in April. Doc McStuffins was her theme and as usual the girls had a blast. Keeping tiny fingers out of the cake proved to be a challenging task. April also marked the beginning of Sienna's start of spring daddy + me soccer, which was more successful than ballet would come to be, but not perfect.  Sarah was home from SF for a short stint during her birthday weekend and a visit at her parents with the babies was just what the proverbial doctor ordered. Piper learned that sharing Sienna's toys was super fun, while Sienna learned that it was definitely.not.her.favorite. We celebrated Easter at Jamie's aunt and uncles with the whole family and lots of chocolate (S couldn't even take a family photo because she was really into consuming her treats) from a kids Easter Egg hunt. I also got to sneak in a night away with Kelly and Sarah for a day at the spa and a good solid dinner and night of sleep. Hilarious that 2/3 of us were pumping and Kelly was pregnant with baby boy #2. 

May was jam packed. In a good way. May brought something really lovely which was that Piper was sleeping better and I got to drop down to only 3-4 pumping sessions a day. In the world of feeding, that was a huge relief. We popped into Bordentown, NJ to meet Anna and Brendan's new baby Graham, Haley and Frank's little Isla, and to see Caleb and the Millers. We left from NJ and drove up to Connecticut where we celebrated Mother's day, stayed in a hotel (with a pool which was important to Sienna), and got to visit both great grandmothers.  We also took our annual trip to the Wilmington Flower Market at Rockford Park, where Sienna got to go on rides to her heart's content. My dad and I (and my cousins and uncle) went to the Who Concert in Philly. It brought back memories of seeing them do Tommy while pregnant with Sienna at the Mann Center.  No wonder my kiddos love music. We got in our wedding time when my sweet friend Beth and her now hubby Mike tied the knot at Greenville Country Club- We've come a long way since natti light and blue jello, Beebs. We trekked up to Yardley to celebrate the Memorial Day parade, and Piper loved it (until the loud fire engine came through and she nearly had a panic attack). We rounded out the month of may with a BBQ at my parents and GLADLY welcomed summer...

You know what is really amazing? Holding newborn babies your friends birthed. Liz and Brendan's sweet little guy, Declan was so tiny and my girls were so intrigued by him. Declan's nursery is also one of the cutest I've seen. We also had a play date in Yardley with Mr. Caleb.  June means summer. And summer means... the creek! Behind our house, down a hill, and through the woods is a toddler's favorite thing ever: water. Sienna loves venturing down with Jamie and I can only imagine that both will be trampling through the soggy leaves and breaking twigs come this summer. I love this piece of heaven behind our house.  We visited St. Anthony's Italian festival where Sienna got to go on- you guessed it- MORE rides and I started eating cheese again and devoured anything labeled mozzarella. We also made our first annual appearance at the Hagley fireworks. We need a bigger spread next year. Sienna LOVED it. She stayed up until 10pm. She danced. She partied. It was a blast. We rounded out the end of the month with a week in Rehoboth. Sienna and Hazel were bff, and so pumped to spend so much time together. Piper loved the beach and was so brave, but toddling and eating sand are tiring!

Happy Birthday month, Jamie! We celebrated Jamie's birthday with cake at home and the next day (the 4th!) we headed to Jamie's aunt and uncles newish house in Worton, MD and had a fabulous time playing with cousins-read: Sienna hanging with the older girls and P refusing nap, boating, and eating. It's so much fun to have these big family gatherings and see all of Jamie's cousins! Amy and Lance were the first extended family of Jamie's I met (they live out in CA) and their kiddos were potty training. Now they are the "big kids" Time seriously flies! We also spent a TON of time in July at the YMCA and on our back deck playing in water tables. We made the trek to Westfield, NJ to visit my friend Sarah so Sienna and Morgan could play (and to meet newborn Milly!)It was a solidly wonderful summer month of rivers, pools, and Hawaiian shaved ice.  Piper also started walking well in early July, and was all over the place by the time August came! 

Apparently August is when I started taking more photos and my brain began to function better. That makes sense, a year out from having baby 2.0. I'm glad I document things , because even looking back a few months ago I was struggling to remember all of the adventures we had. I digress. The very first weekend in August I drove up to CT with the two girls, Jamie meeting us via train later. We celebrated my aunt and uncle's 40th anniversary and aunt's birthday. We visited the great grandmas again- so joyful to watch them with the babies. On friday afternoons we often found ourselves at the Carousel Park farmer's market- and on good days J got out of work earlyish to meet us there. Sienna always sang along to the performers while Piper scarfed down whatever food we would buy her. Homemade lemonade and some sort of fresh baked dessert always graced our blanket. When Matt and Sam were away, we took a field trip to meet their kids and my parents at the Plumpton Park Zoo and feed the giraffe. My littlest love, Piper Emily, turned ONE! on August 22 and we celebrated with a big backyard bash at our house. August ended with the best family vaca to Avalon for a week. We got a visit from Melissa, Scott, and Alex, played on the beach, swam in the pool, drank cocktails on the deck after the kiddos were in bed, and of course visited our fav restaurants. By the time we packed our car to go home, we were exhausted but happy. Summer has never been better to us. 

Lucky us, September was amazingly warm and allowed us two more long weekends at the beach. But only after my big girl started SCHOOL! Sienna began 3's preschool at Developing Minds at St. James Church this fall. They've been good to her- she's loved it, and the first day of school will always hold a very special place in this gushy mama's heart. Then came our beach getaways- the stuff people dream about- nice enough weather to stroll the boardwalk and the beach, cool enough and late enough in the season that there are no crowds. Thanks, Rehoboth. You were oh so good to us. We jetted down for a weekend so I could babysit Caleb while Sarah and Chris went to her cousin Emily's wedding. You know we take any excuse to beach it. The next weekend, we packed up our girls again and stayed in the cottage next to Jamie's family while he did the Dewey Tri with his friends. And Sienna started ballet- which lasted a whopping 4 classes before she decided ballet takes too much patience and any sport mom can't observe directly just isn't for her. Touche kid- find your thing and love it. Fall was here, 

The first weekend in October, Miss Olivia turned one and we partied at their house with the kids, and a guest Mickey visitor. The next day we hopped on down to lower DE for Hazel's 5th party which included a really awesome cake and playing in an outside castle. It also included a horse ride for Sienna who has finally warmed up to Pop's pets.  I traveled to CT to meet Kelly's sweetest new member, Brody, and to play with my buddy Jake. Friends babies melt my heart. We took a few trips to Milburn Orchards this fall, and Sienna and Stella had a blast. In mid October, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. We have so much to be thankful for over the past five years- but mostly I'm grateful for a steady, loyal, kind, caring husband who puts his family first. We jetted to Maine (my first flight since having P!) for 5 days away alone. We ate lobster rolls, we slept in, we read books, we watched movies (in a theater!), and we enjoyed time together uninterrupted by crying babies and singing toddlers. We were whisked back to reality when P was diagnosed with croup and Sienna a stomach virus the day we came home. Parenthood is hilarious. October ended with my two girls being lambs for Halloween and Piper tasting her first piece of chocolate- she's officially sold on M&M's. 

Ohhh November, you and the holiday season really arrived quickly this year. Keeping with the busy schedule, we packed weekends full of activities. Sienna went to her first solo soccer Union game with daddy (she was pumped about all the treats and the cheering!), my girls spent a ton of time learning they could actually amuse and play with each other, I took Sienna to see Peppa Pig Live! My mom and I joined my cousin Kim for wedding dress shopping (It's pretty darn cool when one of your life long best friends gets engaged to your cousin... wedding blog to come in June). We had family photos taken at a Christmas tree farm. We squeezed in another Caleb play date (this was a theme apparently of 2015). We took Sienna with us on a 5k for Alex's Lemonade Stand in honor of Declan. Thanksgiving brought us to Jamie's aunt and uncles (we spent a lot of time at aunt and uncle's houses apparently!) We decorated our house and tree for Christmas the minute Thanksgiving moved out the door because Sienna couldn't wait any longer. And it started to get dark so darn early that we began letting Piper do things like paint..... scary right? 

The year end month that usually brings us at least a snow flurry was laden with days in the 60s and 70s. It felt like anything but winter and Christmas at times, while other times I found myself still 100% in the spirit as the lights went up and I shopped for our adopt a family. Sienna helped this year- I'm trying my best to instill in her that helping other people is one of the most important parts of life. December was jam packed- Sienna got to go to my parents for Christmas cookie baking and polar express with Stella.  Piper and I also had some super fun mornings while S was at preschool, one of my favorites being the time she learned to squeeeeze play doh and laugh hysterically each subsequent time. We went bridesmaid dress shopping with Kim and my girls thought every accessory in the store was for them. Jamie and I went to his work holiday party, but apparently took no photo. Sienna had her first school concert -- the adorableness of it all was overwhelmingly joyful. We spent the weekend before Christmas at the Walls celebrating with the cousins- and Hazel and Keller are Sienna's idols. By Christmas eve, we settled in at my parents with the rest of the chaotic clan (4 kids under 4...) and celebrated Santa's arrival and a bazillion presents.  For NYE we head to Matt and Sam's, where "the countdown" will occur at 8pm, not 12am, and then we will go home, tuck our babies into their beds, have a glass of wine, and reminisce about our year- and probably fall asleep before we ever see the clock strike midnight. 

Happy, happy new year friends. We love you all and can't wait to see what 2016 brings!! 

The Walls Family 2015

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...