Abundantly Blessed

Today is my birthday. My 32nd birthday, to be exact. Birthdays are funny. The older I get, the more insignificant they become. It's still nice to have a special day, of course, and it's so lovely to be flooded with texts and calls and Facebook messages from people telling me Happy Birthday all day long - who wouldn't want that?

But I realized something this morning. After I dropped Grayson off at preschool I went to Starbucks to work for a bit. On my drive home, I was praying (as I often do when I'm alone in the car) and I realized that although I of course have so many things I ask God for on a regular basis, more than anything I just wanted to thank him. Over and over again. Because I am wonderfully, abundantly, absurdly blessed.

Of course, life isn't perfect. Nothing ever is, no matter what it may look like through an Instagram filter. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of laundry and feeding kids and cleaning messes and scrubbing floors and folding clothes and wiping noses and changing diapers and disciplining and feeding them again and power struggles and alllll the noise and bedtime routines - it can just be so routine, so mundane, so overwhelming. It's easy to live this life as a mama to little kids and as a wife to a husband who works constantly and just feel a little stuck.

But then. Then I look out the window of my car and see the gorgeous trees and the beautiful homes and the sunshine, and I think - I live in such a truly beautiful place. And then I think about my boys - my sweet, crazy, loud, hilarious, mama's boys - I could not possibly love them more if I tried. And I think about my husband. My husband who drives me crazy and is an insane workaholic, but who truly wants nothing more than to see me happy, who takes me on amazing trips to San Diego and buys me everything I need and supports our family without a single complaint, and I think oh my goodness. I might be the luckiest girl in the world.

I think about the fact that I am getting to chase my dreams, that I have the luxury to do that - how blessed am I? I think about the fact that I live in a safe place, a safe neighborhood, that I don't worry about so many things that so many other people in the world have to worry about. I think about the fact that I have a reliable car, a comfortable home that will always have a fridge full of food, family that loves me, amazing friends. And I think about the fact that God decided I was worthy of all of these things, even when I know I'm not. And I think about the fact that he looked at me in my cushy, comfy life, and he snatched me up and said "It's time." He brought me out of my confused, lost, non-believing but super comfortable life and got right in my face and said "Time to follow me." I didn't do that. No way I would have done that. But He did it. And I am so, so, so beyond grateful. My life has changed, in the most amazing ways, even though it has remained so much the same.

So today, on my birthday, I don't need a single gift. I don't need a single "Happy Birthday." I don't need a special meal or a cake or any recognition. I am exactly where I need to be, I am insanely happy to be here, and I am so incredibly, abundantly blessed.

Gavin - Ten Months

Sweet little baby of mine! Man oh man, you are just a delight. You are seriously just the best little guy in the world. I know, I'm gushing. It's annoying. I can't help it. You are basically everything a person could want in a baby. My only complaint is that you don't sleep all night long in your crib. This is my fault, so really, can't complain too much! Other than that, pure delight, I tell you. 

You are hilarious. Seriously, you have me laughing all day long. Combined with that crazy brother of yours and you guys are really just too much. You get so excited about things and kind of bounce up and down and do a gasp-y, opened mouth happy sound that I adore and seriously hope I can capture on film before you outgrow it. You are always smiling, always laughing, and always doing something a little bit crazy. 

You are totally mama-obsessed right now, and I cannot get enough. You are so tiny that I can just pop you up on my hip and cart you around, but you get pretty bored up there after about two minutes. Even though you want to be around me at all times, it's usually good enough to just know that I'm in the room. If I leave your line of vision, that's another story. You are so great at entertaining yourself, and will just happily play with toys or crawl around exploring (getting into things) for long periods of time. This is CRAZY to me, because I vividly remember the first time your brother actually played by himself - at all - and it was for like five minutes and he was maybe a year and a half old. The fact that you entertain yourself for large portions of time every single day boggles my mind. But THANK YOU. 

You are also food-obsessed right now. Just within the past few days, really. You've been eating maybe three baby food pouches a day for awhile now, but within the last few days you have been positively freaking out over our food. If you see me cooking, or even if I just open the fridge, you immediately start whimpering and whining and fake-crying until you are in your chair with food in your hands. Then you whine/whimper anytime the food on your tray runs out. I'm trying to teach you to say "more", because that would be much more pleasant. You're still nursing several times a day, and usually once or twice in the middle of the night, but I can tell your interest with this is fading already. I know it's more of a comfort thing, because anytime anyone else watches you, they don't even really need to feed you a bottle unless it's an entire day that I'm gone. We'll see how long you keep it up. 

Like I said, you aren't sleeping "through the night", but you go down around 8/8:30, are usually up sometime before midnight, and then again middle of the night, then up for the day around 7/7:30. Some nights you'll sleep in your crib until your last middle of the night feeding, some nights you won't settle at all after your first wake up, so I just bring you in my bed because mama's TOO tired to deal with that. You also just dropped from three naps to two within the last couple of weeks (and yes, you will be 11 months old tomorrow, I'm super late with this again). 
You are SUCH a daredevil that I have pretty much given up at this point. You will climb anything, crawl under anything, touch anything, taste anything, hang off of anything, dive off of anything - you are exhausting, to be honest. Yesterday I caught you literally balancing on the handlebars of your toy train, hanging onto the rim of the plastic basketball hoop, leaning against a window. You were at least two feet off the ground, and it didn't faze you a bit. You have also figured out that you can push Grayson's chairs and little footstool around the house up to anything you want and then climb onto a higher surface. I've caught you on a few tables this way. I am constantly figuring out new ways to baby-proof, but I've pretty much figured out that nothing is really Gavin-proof. 

You have learned several fun new things this month, and it reminds me why I love this age so much! Although, you could slow down a bit - I'm not really to see my baby turn into a big boy yet. But the most exciting thing you've conquered this month is walking! You started taking steps about two weeks ago, and within just the last couple of days we can officially consider you a walker. You still crawl when you need to get somewhere quick, but you are up to probably 15-20 steps at a time, walking across rooms and getting wherever you need to go. You are so proud of yourself, and it's so cute! You also "learned" to wave (you've known how for quite a while but literally would refuse to do it until a few weeks ago), you high five, and you LOVE to clap. You shake your head no A LOT, but sometimes I think you just do it anytime you want to answer me either yes or no. You also love to grab my hands and make me clap constantly, especially if you've done something you think I should be impressed by. You love it when we say "Yaaaayyyy Gavin!" and clap for you, so now you think you can look at literally any human being and clap your hands and they should applaud you. 

You've started babbling in a way that sounds a lot more like sentences than just random babble, and I'm not sure we can say it's official, but you've been saying a lot of "A-dada" when requested, so I'm sure Daddy would like to claim Dada as your first word. I'm not saying it counts quite yet ;) You discovered flipping light switches on and off a few days ago when I was holding you in the bathroom, so now anytime I carry you by a light switch you start kicking your legs and doing your excited, gaspy noise. When I let you turn it on or off, you look at me with a silly grin on your face for awhile while you hold your finger right by the switch, like "Is this really OK?", then when I say it's OK you can do it, you flip the switch and it's SO exciting every time. So dang cute. 

You love music and love to dance, and Daddy plays a lot of music when he gets home from work. As soon as he turns a song on, you head to the middle of the living room like it's a dance floor and start moving your little booty up and down. Now that you're walking, you bounce up and down, and just like your brother, you've got perfect rhythm. You also have started doing your weird little bear crawl in a big circle, which I just figured out tonight is some hilarious dance you've created. The second the music came on tonight you crawled to the center of the room, then started crawling in circles. You are seriously hysterical. 

There isn't much that makes you upset. Me leaving is probably the major one, followed closely by bath time, which is crazy because you've always loved it! But right now you scream hysterically the entire time you're taking one. You don't mind diaper changes, but you refuse to lay still for more than two seconds, so I personally hate them. You also are impossible to dress. I end up crawling around the room trying to shove arms and legs inside clothes. I'm always sweating at the end of a diaper/clothing change. You protest maybe half the time, sometimes with tears, when I put you in your car seat, but are usually fine within like thirty seconds. And you sometimes cry when I try to put you to sleep. Other than that, happy as can be! 

You and your brother are growing closer all the time, and he's starting to talk to you more like you're a friend. He tells you to come play, encourages you, tells you you're annoying, yells at you to get away from his toys, tells you he loves you, tells you he does NOT love you, begs for you to take a bath with him, gives you big hugs, then pushes you on the ground or picks you up rather violently. Brotherly love is a crazy thing to watch develop. Maybe my favorite thing the two of you do is "walk" together. Since you've been up and trying to walk, he's started grabbing both of your hands while you face each other, and he'll walk backwards while you walk toward him. It's so cute and sweet and almost always ends with a little too much force for my liking, but he gets so excited that he's helping! He's having so much fun watching you learn how to walk and he jumps up and down and says "He's walking! He's walking!" almost every time. I'm sure that excitement is about to wear off. 

I can see your Daddy falling in love with you more and more every day. The baby phase isn't his favorite (although he obviously loves his babies as babies), but now that you are funny and wild and crazy, he is SO into it. You are clearly going to be the one he can do all the crazy stuff with that Grayson has always been too cautious to try, and I can see a little sparkle in his eye when he watches you do something ornery. He loves to toss you around and hang you upside down because you just squeal and eat it up. I may have to watch you two. 

I am having a blast watching you develop into the little guy you are going to be. It's so fun to try and guess your personality based on who you are as a baby. My guess at this point would be laid-back and chill, but with an ornery, adventurous streak. Super decisive, and maybe a little impatient (join the club with the rest of us in the house on that one). Sweet as can be, but not super into cuddling and physical affection (I'll have to keep getting this from big brother I think). Overall I think you are just going to be content and happy, because that's how you've been since day one.

Clearly, CLEARLY, I am super obsessed with you, and I adore you more than is reasonable. You and your brother and that Daddy of yours make me so happy I could explode, even when you're all driving me nuts. I love you so much, sweet boy, you make every single day so much better just by being a part of it.
FYI, I'm super bummed about the bad cellphone pics this month, but my camera died and I didn't have time to retake them :( :( :( 

Let's Be Real

I don't struggle with comparison. That just isn't something I have a major issue with. Now insecurity, that is absolutely the great struggle of my life. But for the most part, I can look at others and admire their strengths or be happy for their blessings rather than begin to compare myself. So that's not what this post is about. It's more about my bewilderment at the capability of other people. Namely, other moms. Moms that I see on Instagram, to be completely specific.

How. How on earth do these mamas do it? I know everything is prettier cropped and behind a beautiful Instagram filter, but still - there has to be a little reality behind it. What made me think of this is my fingernails. Random, I know. But I posted a picture of me and the boys, and my hands are showing, and you can see my short, stubby nails with no polish. I am a nail biter, and no matter how many times I break the habit I go back to it. Nail biting is my drug. (I really need that crying laughing emoji here to appropriately express my feelings behind that statement).

Anyway, back to the point. I was looking at my nails, and I started thinking how all the super fun, trendy, pretty mamas on Instagram always seem to have their nails done. But hooooowwww? This is my question. When are you doing this? When are you finding time in your day to slip away to get your nails done on a regular basis? Do you get a babysitter? Does your husband watch them? Are you some type of magician and you can do them yourself and make them look like that? I just don't understand.

And it's not just nails. It's all the pretty pretty hair. I am so not a hair person. My hair looks the exact same basically every day of my life. It's either freshly washed and has been put up in hot rollers so it's kind of wavy, or it's super greasy and caked with baby powder and has THEN been put up in hot rollers, so it's kind of like matted and sorta kinda wavy. I so badly wish I was the girl who woke up and spent 30 minutes making those beautiful beach waves that everyone has, but I. Just. Can't. I can't. I've tried. I hate it. But man, those moms who do it look so put together!
Check out this realness. No lipgloss, frizzy hair, fading spray tan, baby not looking - but Grayson wanted a family photo before preschool, so he got his family photo! Shoulda thrown an Instagram filter on this bad boy and no one would have ever known ;) 

So, I think the struggle isn't necessarily that I'm comparing myself and I feel inadequate or wish I was more like this person or that person, but I think the struggle is just that I don't understand how these things are being done. If I had an extra probably six hours a day I think I could look pretty fab, I would work out, my house would be clean, my dishes and laundry would be done, I might even cook occasionally. But with the 24 hours a day that I get, I just really can't. I'm basically just trying to keep us all alive and relatively clean, if we're being honest.

So my vote is, let's all just be real. Does a mother of two (or one or three or five or twelve) really have time to do it alllllllll? Some of it, sure. I find time to work on my shop (Haven Gray Kids, if you're curious). I find time to blog (oh so rarely). I find time to read my bible and pray and play with my kids and keep my house picked up and somewhat clean and to spray tan and have my hair highlighted every couple of months because, hello, priorities. The things I feel like I must do for my sanity, I get done. But I don't fix my hair every day, or paint my nails, or work out, or take beautiful staged photos or flip houses or own a boutique, or, or, or, or.

I guess the moral of my story is, just do you. Am I allowed to use that phrase? It felt kind of wrong. But I like the sentiment. Do what makes you feel good, what helps keep your kids alive, what you must do each day to be sane and happy and healthy. You simply can't do it all. Not now. Maybe not ever. But you can do the very most important things, and if you're honest with yourself, you know what those things are. Focus on those, and let the rest go. For now. You can always conquer the world after your kids are in school. That's my plan, at least.