Saturday, January 31, 2015

For our beach baby...

Here's the latest addition to Baby Kate's room! 

A little bit of Pattaya Beach, for our little beach baby.

Kate's room is technically still just a guest room (I can't bear to decorate a nursery that sits empty for months - or maybe years) but I do have one little bookshelf in there that is hers. It was my grandmother's shelf, and now it's full of Kate's things. There are plenty of books (the one thing I can buy her that I know she won't grow out of), a little basket of wooden toys (that our neighbor kids are "breaking in" for her), a little handmade teak box from Thailand, a framed word ("Eucharisteo") from a dear friend, a wooden sign that will someday remind her she is "SO LOVED", and now this.

We scooped up the sand and searched the beach for shells our last day in Thailand this Fall. It is crazy to think that we could've been just a mile or two away from our daughter that day. For those that don't know, we are adopting from Pattaya Orphanage. Pattaya City is on the coast of Thailand - so our little girl will be a "beach baby" to me (even if she's never actually been to the beach when we meet her!)

I have struggled lately with feeling like our adoption is still real... with feeling like Kate is real. This journey has been SO long, and I've been through every emotion possible over the last 3 years. In the beginning there was so much excitement and anticipation... but you can't keep feeling that same "high" year, after year, after year. Eventually, your heart settles into the dullness of waiting... with no day or month or year to count down to. It's easy to wonder if it's real... if the little girl I dream of will ever actually be in my arms. So I'm trying hard to do what I can to create tangible reminders of her - like this little jar of sand. There is one on her bookshelf, and a second little jar on my dresser so I can see it every day.

For those of you who ask for updates, or message me encouragement, or bring up Kate (or our adoption) when you see me - thank you. Please keep asking about her. Please keep talking about her. Even if I have NO news.... even if I seem upset... even if I complain or cry... please know - to hear you talking about her means so much to me.

Baby girl, we can't wait to meet you! We're looking forward to lots of family vacations,
playing in the sand and collecting seashells with our beach baby!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mother/Daughter Road Trip :: Day 3 & 4

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 you can click through to read them.

I'll be honest. Day 3 and 4 were pretty uneventful. I spent most of Day 3 (my birthday) curled up with a book in front of the fireplace, which made me pretty happy!

That is of course, until tea time. The kind tea lady actually said, "Are you sure you won't spill it?!" when I asked for tea. (Crap. They remembered me! I was hoping somehow the hot tea firework hadn't been noticed by the ENTIRE ROOM yesterday. No such luck.) Another lady said, "Oh, I saw that yesterday. Are you okay?" (Humiliating.) Mom joined me and whisper/yelled "HE HAS A WALKIE TALKIE!" every time a maintenance person walked by and then giggled when I rolled my eyes. And then, suddenly, another man spilled his tea everywhere and I ceremoniously passed him the torch while everyone stared at HIM for a change! Haha! (Thanks for the birthday gift karma!) Okay... I didn't really rejoice that he spilled, but I totally went up to him and explained that I did the same thing yesterday - only made twice the size of his mess because, hello, HOT TEA FIREWORK. It was great. We had a good laugh out of it.

Anyway - the rest of the day went well. We went out to an AMAZING dinner at Jesse's. (Thank you to my friend from college, Matt, for suggesting it!) 

It was seriously one of the best meals of my life! We had warm brie with granny smith apples and pecan praline sauce, a wedge salad, filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans, and a flourless chocolate lava cake. After dinner we stayed to enjoy some live jazz. It was wonderful!

The next day we got up, took 53 trips downstairs to get all our bags to the car (or maybe just 2 trips with our arms almost falling off again), checked out, bought baby Kate an ADORABLE book about a little crab that saves a fish, and went out to feed the ducks.

The property at The Grand Hotel is seriously so gorgeous - even in the winter! And the ducks were super friendly, which totally made my day. (I know, I know, I'm easily amused. But you GUYS! They would follow me around and eat out of my hand! Such brave little ducks! I loved them!)

For the first time all week it was sunny and sort of warm, so we walked all over the property before heading to lunch. Of course on the way to lunch, a light on the dash came on and we realized a tire was low. So we ended up pooling together all the change we had in the car to put air in the tire... which took both of us because the air compressor wasn't working right and wouldn't stay on the tire. Good times!

(It wouldn't have been a normal day if something interesting didn't happen, right? ;) Luckily, we made it to lunch, a quick shopping trip, and home without any more drama!

I had a lot of fun sharing these stories, and I hope you've all had a lot of laughs. But really - I wanted to share them on my blog just to preserve the memories. When I was packing for the trip I realized - I can't remember a time when just me and my mom ever went on a trip. I've been lucky to take a LOT of family trips with my entire family - sometimes even my extended family - or at the very least my mom and dad. This was the first time I can remember that Dad wasn't available and it was just us girls - and we had a blast! (Sorry Dad! Love you too!) If you've never taken a trip just you and your mom (teenage and adult girlfriends) I would highly recommend it. We laughed a lot (obviously), talked about things we've never really talked about, ate yummy meals where we shared every course so we could have all 4 courses (best idea ever) and goofed off like teenagers. We made such fun memories, and I know we'll cherish them for years to come. I hope that someday, I'll be able to make road trip memories like these with my own daughter. 

Thanks Mom for a great birthday week! I love you!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mother/Daughter Road Trip :: Day 2

(In case you missed Part 1, check it out here.)

Mom wasn't really thrilled that I posted the first day's events on facebook (especially when I told her my friends in India liked it too! Come on Mom! Now you're funny in 2 countries! Hahaha!) - so I'm sure she'll love that these are now up on the blog! ;) But I just can't leave you hanging... because Day 2 was just as memorable as Day 1! 

Day 2:

Mom told me over and over again last night that I HAD to go see the cannon today. "They shoot it off at 4:00" she said. "They march around the property with a drum at 3:30" she said. "Don't be late or you'll miss it!" she said. So at 3:15 I put down my work, threw on some clothes, and hurried out to the pier.

By the time I found the cannon, I was FREEZING. It's 46 with windchill that makes it feel like Antarctica. I have no gloves. I have a thin scarf and a thin jacket and a thin sweater and blue jeans. All I can think is, "We have 16 freaking bags between us and I packed NOTHING warm enough!" I thought going South would = warmer weather. I thought 55 degrees wouldn't be frigid. I was wrong. By the time I sat down by the cannon tears were streaming down my face from the icy wind (I had to take my glasses off and dab my face with my scarf!) and my hair was EVERYWHERE. Seriously. This is a picture of me waiting by the cannon. Glad I didn't bother to brush my hair that morning.

3:45 came and went. 3:50... 4:00. No flipping marching man. No drum. No cannon fire. At this point I was a popsicle. I was trying to text my husband but my fingers got too cold to cooperate. 

4:02 - FINALLY! Some man in a costume came out carrying an American Flag. Fantastic! Let's do this!

4:14 - The Navy man is telling a story about the military/war history of the area. He's been talking for 12 minutes. It feels like 1200 minutes. Normally I would love this history lesson (I am a total history nerd!) but with the wind off the bay and the 46 degree temp I am numb. But I am going to see the cannon for crying out loud!

4:15 - He fires the cannon! It is awesome. I get an awesome picture. (see below). And then I high-tail it inside to get some tea and cookies.

Ahh.... tea and cookies. I have never been so excited about tea and cookies! I skipped lunch (long story - I brought snacks but couldn't find a knife to get my peanut butter out of the jar!) and I am starving. I am also freezing, and want to drink something warm. She fills my tea up to the brim and I feel panicked. I still can't feel my hands... how am I going to pick this up on a saucer with one hand and get to a seat without spilling it?! I literally shuffle across the room. I sip it down to add milk and sugar - then it's full again. I sip again. I'm not fast enough. People are lining up behind me to get to the milk and sugar. I shuffle to the couch nervously. SUCCESS! My hands are still numb, but I didn't spill!

I eat my blueberry scone that is so, so delicious and reach for my tea. Three sips in, and it happens....

A maintenance woman walks by and drops the biggest walkie talkie I've ever seen on the hardwood floor literally at my feet. It sounds like a gunshot. Of COURSE it scares me half to death. Of COURSE I jump. Of COURSE I throw my delicious hot tea EVERYWHERE.

Seriously. You guys. I was like a hot tea firework exploding all over the room. There was tea on the floor, tea on the furniture, tea on my jacket, tea on my shoes. There was also tea (along with my tears from earlier) all over one of my favorite scarves from my very first trip to India, and tea ALL over my darkwash skinny jeans. The only pair of dressy pants I'd brought with me. The jeans I was going to wear out to dinner that night AND the next night. (16 flipping bags and I only have one pair of dressy jeans?! Seriously? How is this possible!?)

I was so, so sad about my tea, but I almost laughed. (I did, in my head. Because all I could think was "of course this would happen!" followed by "at least I'll have something to share on my blog today!") The maintenance woman felt terrible and kept apologizing. I of course told her it wasn't her fault (I mean... she was clumsy and dropped a walkie talkie, and I was clumsy and jumpy and became a hot tea firework. Accidents happen.) She showed me to the bathroom where I began blotting my clothes with a wet paper towel and dreading walking the 1/4 mile back to our building in the FREEZING cold wind. I was wet and cold and very sticky by the time I got back to our room.

Then, when I didn't think it was possible, things got even worse! I started trying to wash out my FAVORITE pair of jeans.... the jeans I've had for at least 5 years and washed dozens of times....

and everything turned BLUE.

Blue towel, blue washcloth, and the sink looked like a Smurf died in it. By the time my mom came back to the room from her conference I was wearing sweatpants, using the hairdryer on my wet blue jeans, and sporting a bright blue hand. 

I was not amused. She, however, thought it was hysterical!

Night 2:

I managed to get my jeans dry, ran a brush through my nappy, windblown hair, and made it out to dinner. We had some yummy Italian food, gelato, and then took a quick trip to Publix before heading back to the hotel. (I really like eating a cinnamon roll smothered with cream cheese icing for breakfast on my birthday, and I knew Publix would have one!)

All went well. I got my cinnamon roll, we checked out, and we made it back to the car. That's when I started hearing the music.

Me: Mom, what's that?
Mom: I don't know!
Me: It's coming from your phone.
Mom: No it's not! I've never even heard that before!
Me [taking Mom's phone]: Yes it is! Look - your music app is open. It's playing your music.
[At this point, my precious, innocent, Southern Baptist mom looks at the phone, sees this picture, and freaks out.]


[Mom continues to dramatically protest while I laugh until I can't breathe.]

Mom: What is so FUNNY?! I didn't BUY THAT! I PROMISE!
Me [barely able to speak because I'm still laughing]: I know Mom! I know! It's U2.

Now for those of you that don't know - a few months ago Apple CEO joined forces with U2 (arguably one of the most successful and beloved bands of all time) and "gifted" everyone with an iPhone, everywhere in the world, with the latest U2 album. It was kind of freaky and amazing all at once. At least, I thought so. But then again, I like U2. Apparently though, a whole lot of people had a similar response to my mom. I saw a lot of angry posts online with people asking how to get this "blankety blank" off their phone. But this was the first time I'd actually encountered that kind of reaction in person and you guys... it was HYSTERICAL!!! 

So there you have it friends. Day 2 and Night 2 of our "Mother Daughter Roadtrip Shenanigans" is in the books. I'm scared to think what tomorrow will bring!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mother/Daughter Road Trip :: Day 1

Earlier this month, my mom and I took a little road trip to Fairhope, Alabama. Mom had a work conference and didn't want to travel alone; I can work from anywhere and it was my birthday week - so it all seemed like a good idea. Turns out - it was an idea that would leave us laughing until we cried more than once in a 4 day span. This series should probably actually be titled "Mother/Daughter Shenanigans". 

I posted the following "real time" on Facebook our first night and people thought it was hilarious and begged to hear the rest of the story. So I figured I would share it here, along with Days 2, 3 and 4 so you could all enjoy a good laugh (at our expense!) Here goes!

[This is the conversation we had via phone when I called to tell my mom I could go.]

Mom: Oh I'm SO glad you are going!!! You are going to LOVE this place! They even have tea every afternoon at 4:00... tea and cookies and everything!
(Let that sink in people. The place where all the shenanigans I'm about to share with you is fancy enough to have afternoon tea. Lord help us.)
Me: Great! I love tea!
Mom: And don't be scared if you see two men, dressed really crazy, beating a drum and walking around the property in the afternoon. They do that every day.
Me: Uhmm.... what?
Mom: And don't be alarmed if you hear a loud noise around 4:00. It's just the cannon.
Me: Mom. What in the world?! The CANNON? Where are we staying?!? A pirate ship?!

Day 1:

We made it through our travel day without issue, and arrived just in time for tea and cookies. After that, we checked into the hotel, found our room, and started to unload the car when I realized.... She brought 8 bags - 8 BAGS PEOPLE! For a 3 night trip! Plus a hanging bag, and her purse (which is the size of a small suitcase.) I brought 3 bags (which I thought was a lot) plus a hanging bag and a purse. Then we bought a bag of groceries. SOMEHOW - we made it to our room with ALL those bags (11 bags + 2 purses + 2 hanging bags + 2 pillows + a bag of groceries...gah... we are SO high maintenance!) in just 2 trips. I don't know how we did it!

The first trip up we ended up on a service elevator by mistake that let us out in a random back room. The second trip we were literally dropping things our hands were so full, and then realized neither of us could get to our key. I tell Mom (who has one -sort of- free hand) to reach in my back pocket to get it - but I'm wearing this long, flowy tunic/blanket/sweater thing so she can't see my pocket. She jams her ice cold hand down my pants 3 times trying to get the key while I yell "that is NOT my pocket!" and "YOUR HANDS ARE COLD!" over and over again, and we are laughing so hard we can't breathe and dropping stuff all over the hall! (Mom almost had to use her inhaler!!)

Now we are listening to an old woman next door yell into her phone at the top of her lungs "I DON'T HAVE GOOD SERVICE HERE!" while we giggle. Did I mention we've only been here 4 hours and already all these shenanigans have taken place?! We really should NOT be allowed to travel alone! ‪#‎motherdaughtertrip‬ ‪#‎highmaintenancetravelers‬ ‪#‎ipacklikemymother‬ ‪#‎whereareourhusbands‬ ‪#‎weoverpacked‬ ‪#‎myfacehurtsfromlaughing‬

Stay tuned for Day 2! As the saying goes, "Well behaved women rarely make history." ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

31 years

Today I'm 31. Despite what everyone tells you ladies - 30 wasn't terrible. It was a hard year because we lost a dear, dear friend. It was a hard year because our daughter still isn't home from Thailand. It was a beautiful year, because we got to travel again, and be with the precious children we care for in Asia. But mostly - it was just a year. And any year is what you make it.

At 31, I still wholeheartedly believe everything I wrote last year. If you're struggling with aging - please, please read this: [ What I Really Think About Turning 30 ].  It's not my most popular blog, but it's probably my most favorite - because I felt SO alive and SO grateful and SO powerful writing it. 

Please know ladies - these words aren't meant to shame you, but to empower you!! I know this is a huge issue for so many women (and some men too!) I see the Facebook posts. I hear the comments. I almost let it be an issue myself. But friends - we don't have to respond to our birthdays with fear or shame. We all have things we want to change, things we didn't accomplish, and milestones we haven't met - but we don't have to live in regret. We don't have to wallow and grieve. We don't have to respond to aging the way society tells us to! WE GET TO DECIDE!

We have the power to change our perspective, to change our mind, to change our response! As one of my favorite bloggers Glennon Melton says - "let's put on our "perspectacles!" We can choose to age joyfully, gratefully and gracefully. WE GET TO CHOOSE! Every year is a gift. So, here's to another glorious year!!!