Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Am.

Last year, for my birthday post, I sat down at the closing of a quiet year to write these very words:

(pulled from post December 30, 2009)
It's taken me awhile to grasp it all, but I have finally arrived at the grown-up place of life is what you make it and there are lots of things in life we go through that aren't comfortable or ideal, but they could be so incredibly worse, and a simple life of comfort does nothing to change us, mold us, make us into better, stronger more beautiful versions of ourselves...I have been reminded so much these past couple weeks of just how wonderfully blessed we are and the older I get, the more I embrace change as opportunity to learn just what I am capable of.

I am capable of so much. And I am excited at the opportunity of new challenges, more love...

Perhaps I had been planted for too long and this little bit of discomfort will challenge me, in my thirty-first year, to push myself more toward new chapters in the story of our life.

They will be good chapters.
...it's surreal to know in just a matter of a few weeks, we will know her and our lives as we know it will be changed for good.



A month later, 2010 truly began when I was again transformed by the beautiful miracle of pushing out a tiny pink body, slippery and smooth, in a defining moment that seared my soul.

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Sometimes I wonder if somewhere within me, there was a part of me that knew, a part of me that was preparing all along for the beautiful new journey our family would begin.

This year has been extraordinary.
This year has been painful.
This year has been enlightening.
This year has unearthed hidden treasure within me.

One year later, I am here.

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I feel blessed and content and excited to be writing a new and better story for our family.

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I've gone to write this post about four times, and I felt inadequate every time. Because there's just so much.

And it's not just that this "big" thing happened to us. Down syndrome is nothing compared to other defining moments that shift the worlds of so many. Many of you have had much more dramatic jolting moments of truth that began beautiful stories.

It's more than that.

And I don't even really know what it is.

But this year, I have uprooted the deepest beliefs within me. I have questioned everything. I have spent hours thinking in the shower, driving in the car, lying in bed at night while everyone else sleeps. I have pushed myself to be more, to see more, to do more.

And I have arrived not in a world of answers but in a world of good questions. Questioning is good. It draws the best from us. It calls us to action. And somewhere, amid the action, I've realized the answers aren't even important anymore. Because where I am feels good. I am learning. I am striving to be more. I am loving, and that alone makes me happy.

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I love to love.

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She's giving me a butterfly kiss. And I'm loving it.


My world felt a bit shaken earlier this year, but slowly, it rebuilt. Strong and mighty.

And I am grateful for all the amazing mintues this year gave me. All 525,600 of them.

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Sunset, Isle of Capri. You have no idea how happy my heart was at this moment.

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Nella's Dedication Ceremony, Sunset, Barefoot Beach. With our beautiful Village.

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Three Men and a Baby...and I love them all.


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The girl who made me a mama turns three ripe years. May.


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Poppa turns 60. And the greatest Duo of all time: My Family and Dancing. September.

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My girls, Key West family trip. June.

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A blessed Sunday.

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My heart beating outside my body...in the form of two little blonde souls.

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Check off Bucket List: Picnic in Central Park, August.

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Check off Bucket List: Watching my girls play with kindred spirits in Montana hills, September.

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My girl found love and courage and confidence with pink leotards, plie's and Miss Blair. September.

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My mama comes and all is right with the world. September.

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Didn't know it was on the Bucket List, but it was. And so is going back. Park City, Utah. December.

Oh, it was a good year.

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And I know my heart will stretch so much more these coming years. More learning, more growing, more opportunity to rise to the occasion.

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For all the years I may have searched for who I am, I have found the answer in my thirty-first year.

I am capable.

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And tonight, at the end of another year and at the brink of a new one, I close with the very same words I wrote last year.

I am capable of so much. And I am excited at the opportunity of new challenges, more love.

They will be good chapters.


Happy New Year. Wrap up all the richness of this year, tuck it away and embrace the amazing potential of this next year. You are capable.

*Thank you to the amazing, talented, capable Kaity Ayres for these photos and for loving my girls. Kaity, I love you and your amazing heart. You are going great places, Baby.

And thank you to every one of you who have read, shared and supported with so much encouragement this year. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Enjoying the Small Things (and bad pick-up lines for Life)

When I lived up north, I remember every year, post-Christmas, I entered a dreaded funk. Christmas was over, the cold continued, and all the ghost town store aisles of broken candy canes and clearanced winter scents echoed the let-down. I actually quit my college Victoria's Secret job the day after Christmas one year because I didn't want to leave my sister's and couldn't face the hour long snowy drive to a depressing mall. I just called up the morning I was supposed to work and said "I quit." This irresponsibilty, of course, led to the explanation that I could never be hired by Victoria's Secret again, and I think I replied with something like "Yeah, I'm cool with that." Thankfully, other things worked out. But I still regret the impulsive irresponsibilty. (Sorry, Victoria. I still dig your bras.)

Which brings me to this...

Florida rocks post-Christmas.

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It's like straddling the best of both worlds. One foot still grounded in that homey vibe of quilts and firelogs and mistletoe candles and one bravely stepping into the promise of a new year with sunshine, blue skies and palms unfurled.

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The bonus: I still get to wear boots and scarves.

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Okay, totally laughing...I just noticed... Dude, my zipper's undone!

Today is the last day I will bask in my thirty-first year. I am swimming vigoriously these last laps because I hear the crowd roaring, I see the blur of the finish line, and I know this year was one hell of a victory.

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Tomorrow I will dance. Tomorrow I will write. Tomorrow I will squeeze tight the goodness this year has brought and reflect on it all.

But today?

Today, I will enjoy the small things.

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SHADOW WAVES

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She spots her shadow all the time. Actually sets out searching for it and when she finds it...she waves. And smiles. Cutest thing I've ever seen.

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THE DISASTEROUSNESS OF THE GIRLS' ROOM

Lainey made a new sign for her door and hung it all by herself. I don't know what it means but I'm pretty sure, by the looks of things, it means "My room looks like hell. Stay out."

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Ever step on an upturned click-clack shoe? It hurts.

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CAMOUFLAGE DOGS

Thankfully, Latte is safe from any lake predators.

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It is not unusual for our lake trips to include us screaming for Latte who, we think, ran off. Nine times out of ten, she's right in front of us. Just hidden with the poodle-fur grass.

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THIS SONG PLAYING.

(Song not available for photo at time of post)

Love it. Dance, dance, dance.


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SLEEPING BABY EYELASHES.

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Can I get an amen?

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FUNKY MORNING HAIR.

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She has a wild chunk of hair, front and center, that kind of does its own thing, and I totally love it. Even if I have to barrette it down during the day.

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INVIGORATING SUNSHINE

You know, the kind that stretches through the bite of cold air, warms every puddle of lingering potential within you and possesses you with the thrill for the new year and everything it holds? Yeah, that kind.

We walked to the lake today, me a few steps ahead of the rest of them, her pedaling like mad to reach our strides, and the littlest her kicking, waving, and content to just be.

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We fished and lounged and called for the dog who was, come to find out, just rolling in the dead grass a few feet away.

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Lainey's sweater made by my mama; Lainey's dress made by the talented Kiki. I want everything in her shop, especially this and this and this.

And it was lovely.

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AS IS HER BUDDING LOVELINESS ON THE BRINK OF ONE

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She is changing, growing, beaming, blossoming into more goodness, and we are turning the pages to new chapters that hold more joy.

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I find myself laughing a lot these days. Mostly because she can make a hell of a beeline across the tile, around the bend of the laundry room door, to the dog dishes in a New York minute. I'll hear the ceramic bowl scraping against the tile, run in there, and here she is, just a grinning. Because she knows she's funny. It kills me in the I-wish-I-could-have-understood-this-happiness-last-January kind of way.

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I am feeling all sappy and celebratory and quite in love with Life tonight. In fact, if I bumped into Life at a bar right now, I'm pretty sure I'd have no problem embarrassing myself with bad pick-up lines.

Hey there, Life. The voices in my head told me to come over and talk to you. What time do you have to be back in heaven?

And then Life would say something back, I'd laugh and the two of us would run out the back door into a field of daisies. Cue sunset.
Or something like that.

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Dance. Dance. Dance.