March 31, 2010

Things You Should Know: Part Four

I cried at the gym today.

For some reason, exercise has always made me emotional. Just ask Kristen, at whom I snapped on a long run, "Could you please breathe a little more quietly?" Or something along those lines. Bless her heart for not tripping me right then.

So today I was going full steam ahead on a treadmill when Zac Brown's "Highway 20 Ride" video came on. Hearing those lyrics always puts a lump in my throat, but the combination of an accelerated heartbeat and watching a little boy "grow up" onscreen did me in.

There were tears, y'all. On a treadmill. I am mortified.

I've cried every Sunday in church since I found out I was pregnant 14 months ago. That I can blame on hormones, on gratitude, on thinking of our precious son in God's house and feeling overcome with emotion. (I know I'm not alone on this. Brooke, feel free to back me up!)

The people who sit near us each week must imagine I'm struggling with some intense issues. I had to warn our friends who were visiting Grace the other week that I probably wouldn't make it through tear-free, and not to be alarmed. Sure enough, in the last song before service ended, the saltwater started flowing. I was so close!

I have no idea what my treadmill neighbors thought, but I'll tell you one thing: next time I'm changing the channel!

Watch this video and see if you can make it through - then teach me your ways! This line, at the 3:00 mark, gets me every time:

"It was the pleasure of my life and I cherished every time. And my whole world, it begins and ends with you."

March 30, 2010

Praying for Cohen

If you know me or if you live here in South Carolina, you may have heard about the miracle God performed in the life of sweet Cohen McGowan just over two years ago.

You can read more about Cohen here or by enlarging the article above.

Being a part of Cohen's first concert, before his birth, and the one-year celebration concert last winter, I have been tremendously moved by God's ability to change lives through healing this one little boy. Just witnessing it indirectly has affected me and our family - strengthening our faith, moving us to pray for others in need and inspiring us to live out God's plan for our lives.

Knowing that, you might understand why I feel compelled to pray for another sweet little baby named Cohen. Like "our" Cohen, he has been diagnosed in the womb with some very serious conditions. And as in all of our lives, we are confident that God is at work here.

Cohen's mom, Megan, is in her third trimester; she writes with such a joyful heart about carrying him in the face of uncertainty and walking through this situation with faith. I have been following and praying, but thought that you might like to do so as well.

You'll notice the button on the left side of my blog; feel free to add it to your blog by visiting Cohen's mom's blog here.

The verse referenced in the Praying for Cohen button is:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
-Romans 15:13

He is the God of hope, no matter what we're going through. I hope that sharing a little blog love will keep baby Cohen's parents encouraged and reminded of that very fact.

March 29, 2010

Two years ago today...

Kristen and her bridesmaids

Two years ago today I was in Charleston for my best friend Kristen's wedding. There was pure romance, not to mention Fashion Week and the first hints of spring, in the air. From start to finish, it was absolutely perfect.

Mr. and Mrs. Gamecock

Kristen was a gorgeous bride and we really thought this pair couldn't be any happier - but we were wrong. Now Mr. and Mrs. CEW, Jr. are expecting little Mr. CEW, III. I'm so excited for them and can't wait to celebrate at her baby shower in just a few weeks.

For now, happy, happy anniversary to my bestest and her sweet husband! I was so thrilled to be a part of your wedding and I can't wait to welcome your beautiful boy to the world this summer. We love you!

March 27, 2010

Things You Should Know: Part Three

Me to fellow gym mom: They do grow up so quickly. Mac used to sleep swaddled and still; I'd find him just where we put him. Now I'm watching him do baby yoga in his crib!

(Aside: I meant that I watch via his monitor. And I meant baby yoga in that he pulls up his head and shoulders to grab his toes, rolls over and arches his back like a swan, then follows it by stretching in in ways incomprehensible to fully grown adults.)

Gym mom: (Truly intrigued) Are you using a book to guide him? Are there classes at the Y for babies his age? Do you think it's helping his flexibility?

Me: Um, no. I meant baby yoga like baby break dancing... You know, what they do in their cribs when we're not there. Spinning on their heads, stretching their legs, pushing up?

Gym mom: (Realizes I'm not nearly cool enough to have a yogi for a son.) Oh. Well I plan on signing ours up for baby gym classes this summer.

Clearly Mac already has the embarrassing mom in the gym daycare class.

March 26, 2010

Chow Time

The day after Easter will mark Mac's half birthday - six whole months old. With that milestone comes something quite momentous: real food!!

If he's anything like his parents, Mac is going to love every last bite he gets. (Yes, yes, I'm a picky eater. Doesn't mean I don't love to eat!)

As we approach this next step, I'm researching different ways of presenting Mac's first foods to him. My friend Brooke and I talked earlier this week about how pure and absolutely perfect babies are at this age - totally untouched by the sun, by time, by age, or by poor choices. (Picture the average twice-daily McDonald's customer or lifelong smoker to understand what I mean.)

As all parents do, I'm hoping to keep Macky as healthy as possible. His eight-a-day newborn mealtimes have gone by the wayside; he's now nursing four times a day and enjoying rice cereal as "dessert" after two of those meals.

(Enter my obsession with control here.) I'd love to make sure that what Mac gets from here on out is as natural and good for him as possible, just as I have these last (nearly) six months. Nursing was no walk in the park in the early days, but I stuck with it because I felt he was thriving from the nutrition it provided. (And because it helped me fit back into my pre-Mac clothes even though I was tearing into Halloween candy, but let's ignore the selfish reasons, shall we?)

Has anyone tried making their own baby food? Examined the labels of what's sold in stores to see if there are fillers - salt, sugar, preservatives - that seem unnecessary?

**Obvious next question: Why am I not quite as obsessed with checking my own food labels? I'm working on that, step by step. But I'm damaged goods this far into my twenties, I think. :) Might as well keep the baby perfect and then get B and I on an all-local, all-organic, all-raw diet. With a side of Chick-Fil-A fries.***

I'd love any suggestions y'all may have, even if they're "give him some cheese grits and get over it already!"

Happy weekending!

March 25, 2010

Happy Little Monkey

Happy Thursday, everyone!

March 22, 2010

(Manic) Menu Monday

Our house has not been the calmest of places today; after my meeting tomorrow morning Mac and I will be headed to Columbia. B has a conference there, so all three Smiths will be in town, if not under the same roof.

Mac has had, shall we say, not the best of days. I haven't seen him this unsettled since he was a newborn, so I've been a bundle of energy/nerves/frustration/confusion/off-key singing/rocking/jiggling/reading/shushing trying to figure out how to comfort him, quiet him, or at least get him to sleep. Could it be teething?? (Just when you think you've figured those babies out, they pull a fast one on you!)

Tomorrow night will be Mac's first night away from our house; he'll be staying with his grandparents in Columbia and they are overjoyed! I'm trying not to pack everything he owns, since we'll be bringing Blue with us as well and that poor pup needs a little room in the car too!

Menu Monday is a little off, as we won't be here tomorrow, but here we go all the same:

Monday: Homemade Bradley Burgers (my very favorite on Earth)
Tuesday: Something delicious in Columbia (Rush's, Lizard's Thicket, Za's? Can't decide!)
Wednesday: Pork Chops (the ones I never made last week) with mac & cheese
Thursday: Cube steak and gravy (B's special request)
Friday: Turkey chili and cornbread
Saturday: Homemade veggie pizza

What's on your table tonight?

March 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I have so much to be thankful for and, inspired by sweet Kristen's post, I wanted to share a few with you.
  • Supper in the oven
  • A napping baby upstairs
  • A husband who's come home for dinner even though he's heading back out to work once we clear our plates
  • A sweet dog at my feet
  • Sunshine at 6 pm
  • A long walk with Mac
  • A healthy family
  • Seeing both sets of grandparents in the next week
  • Visits from my best friends next month
  • My in-laws playing with Macky during a meeting I have tomorrow
  • A precious friend watching Mac for me during a meeting I have next week
  • Open windows, open doors and lots of fresh air
  • The support of so many friends as I start my new venture*
  • The promise of summer weddings and vacations and weekends away
  • Contentment with staying in our own little house 'til then
  • God's provision becoming apparent more and more each day
I'm off to finish supper and do a little bit of work while Mac takes one last nap.

*If I haven't told you in person, please know how grateful I am for your support and excitement at my big news. Your notes, calls, prayers, emails and comments have made me feel so supported and loved as I make this transition. Love y'all!

Hope you have a thousand things to be thankful for tonight. Anything at the top of your list?

March 16, 2010

An Exercise in Accountability

With more time at home has come a tremendous feeling of responsibility: what are my priorities and how can I be intentional about making time for them?

I've felt a great deal of freedom to choose what gets done each day, but also a surprising feeling that there's never enough time to accomplish everything I'd like. Work emails, catch-up calls, laundry, housework, daily quiet time, playtime with Mac - so many valid ways to use the time we're given each day.

In addition to my other daily priorities, I'm committing to taking advantage of the childcare services at our gym. There's no excuse for me to avoid exercise; I need to get back in great shape so I can run after Macky once he's a mobile man. (I'm going to avoid discussing or even thinking about a bikini...)

For the rest of the week my gym plan looks like this - and putting it in writing makes me feel absolutely compelled to follow through:

Tuesday: Cardio
Wednesday: Group Power class (a Body Pump/weights class)
Friday: Zumba class

What keeps you motivated to get to the gym? When do you find time for it? (And does everyone else feel completely clumsy in Zumba class?)

March 15, 2010

My First Menu Monday

I promised a little menu talk, so here goes my first attempt at Menu Monday:

Monday: Spaghetti (my favorite!)

Tuesday: Stroganoff Style Roast (B's favorite)

Wednesday: Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Thursday: Black and Bleu Salads

Friday: Grilled Tilapia

Saturday: Crumb Baked Pork Chops

Sunday: Fish Tacos

Bradley brings leftovers for lunch most days, so we try to mix things up whenever possible. I'll pop some extra spaghetti sauce into the pasta e fagioli soup, use Tuesday's leftover roast slices in the black and bleu salads and roll the remaining tilapia into our fish tacos.

Y'all know I'm not a homemaker, but I'm certainly trying. I'm reading up on couponing, as I have some unbelievably talented friends who are setting records with how much they save at the grocery store each week!

Between Dave Ramsey, Southern Savers and Emealz, I think we're going to see a big difference. (Mary Douglass said the same thing on Twitter just after I posted this - so glad to see we're not the only ones!)

If I could just stretch our grocery budget and reallocate some of those funds to, say, spring shoes, I'll be a happy girl! (Ok, a Caribbean getaway this winter would be a fine way to spend the dinero as well...)

What are y'all cookin' up for this week? And is this too boring to even talk about?

March 12, 2010

Things You Should Know: Part Two

Early last spring, I had the only dream in my entire pregnancy about our baby-to-be. (There were many insanely detailed dreams about cruises filled with a mix of reality TV stars and unhappy coworkers, but no other dreams of our actual child.)

In the dream, I had delivered a red-headed baby. A baby girl.

I felt this had to be a sign that everyone and their brother was wrong about my little bump. My parents, my husband, all our friends - the vote seemed to be unanimous that baby Grapenut was a he. I didn't want to get to attached to a particular pronoun, so I held out that my dream might have meaning. Maybe I was having a girl?

I think you know how that turned out; our sweet Mac arrived last October.

A month or so after he was born, my best friend Kristen found out that she was expecting. I told her I had a gut feeling it was a girl. (And so did she. Validation! Surely my instincts were right!)

She's had an ultrasound at nearly every appointment (lucky duck!) but there was nary a sign of boy parts on that sweet baby's body. More validation! I was inches away from buying ruffled diaper covers.

Last week, a year to the day after our first ultrasound (a heartbeat!) with Mac, Kristen and her husband went in for their 20 week ultrasound. Suddenly, there were some special parts on display that had been hidden before. Our sweet friends are having a baby boy!

Mac is thrilled to have a best friend on the way and I know Mr. and Mrs. Gamecock are tickled (blue) for their upcoming bundle.

The lesson in all this? Guessing babies' genders is a 50/50 game. And I'm pretty terrible at it.

If you're pregnant and I have a deep-down feeling that you're carrying a girl, play it safe: Paint the nursery blue!

Five Months Old!

Did I mention that Mac is five months old? Every day is something different, but I can absolutely tell this last month how much he's developing and growing from a baby into a little boy.

Before I became a mom, the only milestones I really knew of were walking and talking. Now, however, I'm celebrating every little achievement. In recent weeks he has found his feet, started reaching out for people, grabbed our dog Blue for the first time, laughed at his own silly noises, started pulling on toys that hang above him and learned to blow raspberries with his lips. I'm surprised his lips haven't grown numb from the hours upon hours he's done it lately.

Two months ago this boy had rolled over once; now I can't turn my head or he's doing baby yoga and contorting himself into crazy positions. "Rolling from front to back" or "back to front" doesn't begin to cover what Mac does these days. He's practically perfecting his push-ups and break-dancing on the bed when you lay him down! He travels miles around the edge of his crib, even in his sleep. Always a boy on the go.

I'm loving every minute, especially learning more and more about his sweet personality.

We can't believe we've already had five months with our son. I'd say I "can't wait" to see what's next, but the truth is I can. I want him to take his sweet time growing up - we've got all the time in the world.

March 11, 2010

Things You Should Know: Part One

I called the gym yesterday to make childcare reservations for the little McNugget. There's another Mac who goes there; I've seen his name on the wall as part of a list of children with food allergies. (FYI, never serve the other Mac peanuts.)

When the gentleman taking my reservations asked for my child's name, I gave him the wrong one! So I had to call back with Mac's correct last name. You know, my last name. It went something like this:

Me: Um, hi. I just called and made reservations for Mac Brown?
Him: Yes, ma'am. I've still got you down.
Me: Well, my son's name is actually Mac Smith. I'm sorry. I (pause) got confused.
Him: (really long pause) Okay. Mac Smith?
Me: Yes. Definitely. That's definitely his name.
Him: Okay then. So I have Mac Smith down for childcare this afternoon.
Me: (Embarrassed, unable to squeak out an explanation for my awkwardness.) Thanks so much!


Macky's sleeping through the night, so I can't blame this on sheer exhaustion. Unless I'll just never catch up on sleep and this spaciness lasts forever?!

Anyhow, I thought someone should know. I'm sure gym guy is telling this story to his buddies over a beer as we speak...

Hodge Podge: Spring Cleaning, Schedules, Socials & Suppers

If you can't tell by my intermittent bouts of silence followed by a flurry of tweeting, commenting and blogging, I'm still figuring out my new schedule. So many things (sleeping, gym going, grocery shopping, menu planning, errand running, baby kissing, house cleaning, laundry doing, dog walking) are being worked back into my life that I'm having a hard time figuring out how each day will go.

I, much like a preschooler, thrive off of routine. My new routine? Not quite defined yet. Mac's schedule and mine each seem to vary daily. I'm working on that!

Being home more makes me realize how much there is to do around here - and how woefully inept I am at getting it all done. Spring cleaning has me itching to donate the contents of pretty much all our closets. I'm in purging mode for sure and can't wait to see the finished (cleaned out) products of my hard work.

In the midst of all this transition, we did manage to sneak away for a really fun party this past weekend. Our friends Heather and Ben were thrown a fabulous fiesta/couples shower and my parents came up to watch Mac while we celebrated. Can't wait to see them tie the knot in Charleston this May!

(Can you tell I rushed in totally late to this Clemson girls' picture? Hence the awkward pose...well, I'm always awkward but this was esp. bad!)

(Emily, on the left, has a precious daughter Mac just has to meet soon. Her baby shower was the last party I attended before seeing two pink lines!)

I have been spending lots of time learning about the exciting worlds of menu planning and couponing - now that I'm home more, I figure it's time I learn to stretch that grocery dollar. In three weeks, I have learned so much, cooked a great deal more and already noticed a sizable difference in what we spend on food.

Is that too grown-up and boring a topic for me to share with y'all? Because I am (super-dorkily) excited about it!

Hope you're all having fabulous weeks! xoxo

March 4, 2010

Bambi Gets New Legs

I'm so proud of the work that the Greenville Humane Society does here in the Upstate. If you love animals, live in South Carolina, are a sucker for tear-jerkers or just want something to make you feel good, you need to watch this video.

How precious is Bambi? And what a miracle! Modern medicine is amazing - but so is the generosity of people who give to the Humane Society to take care of these dogs. Wonderful work!


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