To Mattie on her 2nd birthday

To my dear sweet Matilda,

You are two years old today. Two whole years you’ve been earthside. It feels like you were just placed in my arms to be wheeled to recovery yesterday, but also like you’ve been apart of our lives forever. I cannot imagine our lives without you, and I don’t know how we ever lived without your sweet face. You are always a ray of sunshine. Every morning, daddy gets you out of bed and you come toddling through the house and down the hallway making a beeline to mommy. You want to be picked up and snuggled before you’re ready to start your day. And if I happen to get you up, you always snuggle right back into me. You are a mama’s girl and I ain’t mad about it.

You are just a big ball of energy. You make the silliest faces. You are constantly dancing even when there’s no music. 

You love being a little girly girl – putting on every necklace, bracelet, ring, and hat you can find. You do a little shoulder shrug when you’re feeling pretty. You’ve always been in love with your reflection. I always hold you up in front of the bathroom mirror after bath and ask “who is that?” You’ve always smiled and giggled. Recently, you’ve discovered the full length mirror on our bedroom door. You love to look at, dance, and kiss your reflection. 

You have found your little voice and your vocabulary grows by the day. All we have say is “I smell baby feet,” and you yell, “Mah feet!” and hide your toes cause you know we’re about to cover those little piggys in kisses. You’re so polite and say “thank you” and “bless you” all the time. You just learned to say “Ellabelle” and it’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard. But your favorite thing to say is “I walk!” because you refuse to be held back anymore.

I love that you’re still waiting for those teeth on each side of your front bottom four to come in. They’ve finally started poking through, but I love your little grin with the spots missing.

 

You occasionally you cross your fingers for some reason, and it freaks your daddy out. You hate when there’s anything on your hands, and insist on having a napkin or having me wipe it off.

 

You hate wearing shoes and tear them off your feet as soon as you get in the car or at home. You also the do the strangest thing with your shoes and socks. You like the take just one shoe and/or sock off and leave the other one on. You just walk around like that.

 

Every time I’m eating, you wander over from your table and slyly ask “Want bite” in hopes that i’ll share whatever I’m eating. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same exact thing you have on your plate, you still want mama’s.

 

You always wanna see what I’m doing in the kitchen. You love throwing stuff in the trash. You love getting things out of the fridge especially your cup. You get so excited and yell “milk!” when you see it.

 

Your true love is still your “pay-pay.” You get mad when daddy pretends to use it. If you come across a different one, you’ll take the one in your mouth out and switch them. If you see food, however, you take it out of your mouth and you throw it. Like throw it. We lose a lot of them because of this.

 

You are such a sweet happy baby, but you seem to live in extremes because when you aren’t happy. You really aren’t happy. You have monumental tantrums. You throw yourself down on the spot and kick and thrash and scream. You did this at Ellabelle’s soccer game this past Monday. You wanted to walk across the bridge, but it was a bit of a downward slope so I helped you down it. And you LOST it. You literally threw yourself face forward on the grass and screamed and kicked. It’s ridiculous and hilarious and we have to try to not to laugh at you.
You are easy going and a handful all at the same time. I love your kisses, your hugs, and smooching those big squishy cheeks. I didn’t know I needed you until you got here, but I’m so grateful to you for picking me to be your mommy. I love you, my Mattie Monster. Happy Birthday! 

Love,

Mommy 

Mothers Day Ramblings 💐

I don’t remember how old I was when I knew all I wanted was to be a mom. I’d say I was like 6 maybe. It’s been a very long time. As I got older, I ached when I saw babies. I was the girl always hovering to hold the baby, but too painfully shy to just ask. When I found out I was finally going to have one of my own, I was numb. I didn’t feel excited about it for a long time. I heard the heartbeat on the ultrasound and it calmed my fears, but I still wasn’t excited. It’s hard to explain because I think my anxiety over her wellbeing overtook the joy of waiting for her. When she started finally kicking (which took a lot longer to feel than it does for most women because I have an inverted uterus), I felt the excitement start to build. And then, after I had her, I didn’t really comprehend the whole being a mother thing until she was three days old. I barely remember day one of her life. I was so sick and drugged because of her crazy delivery. On day 4, I was sick of being in the hospital and tired of not being able to really spend time bonding with my baby. So, I got her out of her bed myself (which I wasn’t supposed to do) and laid down with her cradled in one of my arms and we napped together. The hospital obviously wasn’t a fan of co-sleeping and Josh was unhappy, but my heart was finally full. Here was this tiny perfect little girl, and she was mine. I finally got to be a mama. I finally got to hold a baby and not have to feel awkward. She was all mine to love and kiss and hold and sing to. You know how the Grinchs heart grows three sizes in one day? Yeah, that’s motherhood.


Three years later, I luckily had a different birthing experience, and I got to snuggle my baby right after she was born. With Matilda, I feel like the moments after we were rolled into recover and I offered her my finger as a pacifier and she greedily took it was our special moment. It came more naturally since I wasn’t such a mess. And you worry, at least I did, that your heart that’s already grown three sizes with the first kid, and just bursts with love for her, won’t have anymore room to grow and love for the new one. Well, the heart is very elasticy. Cause it can just keep growing.

Now, I’m sitting here with my kids running around being loud and distracting. Motherhood is messy. It’s hard. It’s painful. It makes you want you pull your hair out or run away and never some back. It also is the greatest thing in the whole wide world.

 

Is it what I thought it would be?

No.

Is it way harder than expected?

Yes.

Is it better than I could have ever imagined?

Yes.

 

Being a mom is putting yourself last and being ok with that.

It’s not enough sleep, but not enough time to play and snuggle.

It’s snot smeared on your work shirt that you don’t discover til you’re already at your desk.

It’s finding jelly smeared on the couch by sitting on it.

It’s water splashed out of the tub onto the carpet and dog and your clothes.

It’s body slams onto the bed and the belly laughs that follow.

It’s sharing your cell phone in the middle of checking your Instagram feed even though you really don’t want to.

It’s watching the same shows and movies over and over again and then singing the songs to yourself at work cause you can’t get them out of your head.

It’s running late and not being able to find that damn left shoe.

It’s little footsteps on the linoleum at 7:20 on a Saturday morning that you ignore til you hear a little voice on your side of the bed say, “I’m awake, mommy.”

It’s having a child wedge between you with a cell phone so you can try and get a few more minutes of sleep yet still answering “mhmm” and “shhh” when she keeps talking and finally getting up to go make her the pancakes she won’t stop talking about.

It’s stinker smiles when she sees your car pull in at the babysitters.

It’s shopping for myself and coming home with only stuff for them.

It’s smelling baby toes just to get a little voice to yell, “no, mah toes.”

It’s grumpy morning faces followed by sleepy snuggles on your shoulder.

It’s tip toeing in to check on them once they’re asleep because you miss them even though they were driving you crazy when you put them to bed.

It’s making silly face and sounds that you would normally be embarrassed by but you’ll do anything to make them smile.

It’s the poorly painted or drawn art that you cherish because to you it’s beautiful and you proudly display them.

It’s every single day. It’s the little joys, the little bumps in the road, the big battles, the little victories. Being a mom, to me, means loving these little people so fiercely that it hurts sometimes. It’s wanting to watch them learn and grow and soar and fearing the day they’ll leave.
It’s everything.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful women out there. To the grandmas and mothers, the godmothers and furmoms, those longing for a baby and those missing an angel baby. All of us feel the love that only a mother’s heart is capable holding.
Thank you to Jericho Lionheart and Bellini Santino for being my first babies.


To Maisy Moo for being my first baby girl.


And to Ellabelle Louise and Matilda Gayle for making me a mom. You’ll never know just how much I love you until you hold your babies of your own, but know that’s it’s a lot. Everything I do is for you. I love you, my crazy demon children.

MB17

Nothing we do ever goes to plan. I make lists weeks out and stress over said lists for days and try and make sure everything is exactly as I plan. That never happens. So, the weeks before our trip was supposed to happen, I started planning and packing. Cue Wednesday, when we planned on packing the car, and the laundry still in the wash needing to be dried and bags still sitting empty. We did manage to get the car packed and the car seats moved that night. It didn’t help that we had crying fits over cell phones and a toddler who kept insisting she be allowed to sit in her car seat while it was in the driveway, and it was dark by the time we finished, but it happened as planned. So gold star ⭐️ for us.

 And did I mention that our free upgrade on our rental got upgraded and we got to drive around in a 2017 Cadillac all week? Cause that part was pretty awesome.

On Thursday, the plan was for Josh to sleep as soon as we got home from work, and I’d take the girls with me to drop Maisy off with my aunt who watched her while we were gone. Josh had to run an errand, and I got moving later than I wanted. So, he only got 2ish hours of sleep instead of the 4 he was supposed to, but we got the girls buckled in before either fell asleep in the house. We managed to make it out of the house around 10:30, like we had wanted, with no problems. Except one, which I wouldn’t realize til we were settling in 14 hours later – my clothes were still in the dryer. Thankfully, Walmart’s are everywhere and a little shopping fixed the problem.

So, we drove through the night into Friday. We stopped in Jellico, Tennessee so Josh could sleep for a bit.


Matilda had been asleep the entire ride…until we stopped. Thankfully, Frozen was on her iPad, and she sat and watched that while the rest of us slept. We stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast once we work 2 hours later because we knew we wouldn’t have anywhere else to stop once we entered the mountains.

Outside of the McDonald’s there was a little stray cat. Josh’s crazy cat man senses started tingling, and he had no choice but to feed her. She enjoyed the pancake. I swear Josh would’ve tried to put that cat in the car with us if he could’ve.

14 hours after our trip started, we made it to the beach. The first thing we did was go down and see the water.

The girls were ecstatic. They’re reactions made the very, very long trip 150% worth it. Mattie had some hesitation on the super soft sand, but she was once she was on the wet sand.

Both girls headed straight to the water once we let them free.

My poor Matilda was so excited


-and then a wave pulled her feet out from under her. She went down, but jumped right back up.


As she was trying to run back to the safety of the sand, she was pulled down again and face planted in the water. She even lost her pacifier! Thankfully (or not),  I was filming and got it all on camera.


This was all very traumatic for her, and she was soaked. So Josh took her back to the “Myrtle Beach House” (which is what  Ellabelle named the rental). She screamed the entire way back because she didn’t to leave us.

Ellabelle was in heaven tiptoeing in the water. She squealed with laughter and jumped up and down eliciting many smiles from the elderly people who were watching the beach.


She, Oma, and I walked down towards the pier looking for Opa. Turns out, he wasn’t on the pier. He had followed Josh back to the MB House. So we went back to house, and EB and I gave ourselves mermaid hair. It didn’t show up in her hair cause her hair is too dark. Mine turned out greenish instead of turquoise. So, it wasn’t exactly successful, but you aren’t going to convince me weren’t mermaid for the week.


Somehow, I’ll never know how, we all managed to stay awake til our normal bedtimes.

On Saturday, Auntie Ang was set to arrive nice and early at the airport. Well, things never go as planned. She got stuck on her plane at her layover. She was on standby and that fight was full. She finally made it around 3:30. Once she was there, we all went down to Ocean Annie’s for drinks.

The girls wore their mermaid outfits the Easter bunny had brought them. They shared a pina colada (virgin, of course), and basically through fits about sitting where they were sitting.


So, we let them dance to the live band and took them down to the sand again.

They changed into their swimsuits and back in the water they went. Mattie barely let it touch her feet, but she still laughed and ran around.

Sunday was the traditional K&W for breakfast followed by the flea market day. We got fidget spinners and fidget cubes and only managed to make daddy slightly crazy walking around.

We planned on going to the pool that afternoon. We took our afternoon naps (mom and dad too) and Oma and Angie left without us! It was actually fine because I’m sure they needed some quiet space away from the chaos and noise that is my children. Just like the ocean, EB was all about the water.


Mattie hated it. I don’t know what her issue with water is but she officially hates the shower, the ocean, and the pool.

We went to Nacho Hippo for dinner that night. It was really good, and our kids almost actually behaved.

The whole drive down, every time we passed a Hardee’s sign, Josh would whine about how much he wanted some. So, Monday morning, Oma watched the girls so we could go and get some biscuits and gravy, and Josh could be filled with the nostalgia of his youth.

After, we went to Broadway at the Beach with Oma and Angie. The girls had spending money from Easter and Oma, and they decided to get Build a Bears. Mattie picked Marshall from Paw Patrol, and EB picked out Sonic the Hedgehog. I thought she’d want another pony or a Star Wars bear or Rocket and Groot, but nope. Sonic it was. And there was no changing her mind.

We used the girl’s money to pay for them. That meant that the cashier got $18 in quarters to count. She was very nice about it or at least pretended to be nice.

We had lunch at a restaurant where Matilda and Ellabelle both proceeded to have full on melt downs. It’s always in public, isn’t it? We barely made it through lunch, but all was well when it was time time to ride Pavilion rides. The old amusement park in Myrtle Beach had shut down years earlier, and they saved a lot of the rides and moved them to Broadway at the Beach. So, Ellabelle got to ride one of Auntie Ang’s old favorites, Frogger.


Afterwards, she’d tell us it was “a little fun” but she screamed and cried the entire ride.
She also rode the roller coaster with me.

Mattie lost it yet again because she had to wait for EB to go first on the rides and she wanted to ride too. We finally got her on the carousel. She rode that twice and loved it. Full on baby giggles the entire time.

And then, she lost it again because she wasn’t on it anymore. So Josh took her to the car while EB rode her last ride – the racecars.

We needed naps after that. Josh and I went the pier while the girls napped. I’d say it was because he wanted to spend some alone time with me, but, honestly, it was because he was trying to catch pokemon on his Pokemon Go. I know where I stand.

After naps, we headed to Toys R Us because we needed more pacifiers for Matilda (parenting fail). We also found their Target because when isn’t it a good time to go to target? The answer is never. Always go to Target.

Tuesday was our beach day. The whole morning was dedicated to just being at the beach.


Mattie spent the whole time playing in the sand because I think she’d had enough of the ocean beating up on her.

Ellabelle was in the water pretty much the entire time. She told me that she was “on a mission” while she was in the water. I never got a full explanation, but I hope she completed it.

Josh and I found a crab hanging out alone in the sand. Josh said it was dad crab trying to get some peace and quiet from his crab wife and crab kids. I think someone was projecting onto a sea critter.

We took it to show everyone, and I thought it would scare Oma, but she thought it was cool. Mattie cried the whole time.


So, for anyone keeping track, we learned that Mattie hates soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, and crabs.

Ellabelle finally got to build her sandcastle


And look for sea shells too.

While we were on the beach, we had an umbrella up to keep the sun off the girls. Well, it decided to catch a breeze and fly away. Angie chased after it and almost stepped on two jellyfish. She did save it though.

And speaking of jellyfish, let me tell you about these sacks of stinging goo – they were EVERYWHERE. No joke. No exaggeration. The entire beach was covered in there. Josh calculated that we saw at least 45 of them the first 3 days we were there. We have no idea why there were so many of them, and we have no idea why on Thursday they had just completely vanished. Didn’t see a single jelly the last two days we were there. It was very strange.

Ok, so after our beach day and the traditional tuna day, we ended up at Harry the Hats for dinner. They have $.75 taco Tuesday. They had a swing on the back porch where we were sitting. The girls were immediately drawn to it.


They were fine one minute and then Mattie was face down under the swing screaming. We will never know what exactly happened because none of us were watching, but EB kept saying, “It was an accident!” Mattie scratched her face from her forehead down her nose to a bloody upper lip. She was fine though and we turned on the jukebox for the girls to dance to.

After dinner, Josh took Mattie back to the MB House to give her some special one on one time, and EB and I had a Mommy and Bee date to the putt putt right up the street. EB was actually pretty good considering she had never played before. The volcano on the course shot fire out, and she spazzed out, but it’s her favorite thing to talk about now.

Wednesday started with a trip to Urgent Care for Miss Matilda. She is my troublemaker, after all. She had had a minor cold the whole week previously, but it seemed to progress longer than it should have and her eyes were really snotty. Turns out she had pink eye and an ear infection. She made sure to share her cold with Oma who wasn’t feeling well by this point as well. So, Angie squeezed in between the car seat and booster seat and rode with us to the Boardwalk.


Ellabelle got her long anticipated (henna) tattoo.

We played at the arcade, and Mattie had a blast pulling the tickets out of the machines.


She did not like little car we put her in.


Let us check the tally: soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, crabs, and quarter-powered cars.

It was a short visit because it was hot that day, and there really wasn’t a whole lot to do down there with the girls. So, I hit the Gay Dolphin which is a souvenir shop and got the girls license plates. They had Matilda, but I could only find a Belle for Ellabelle. The Ella’s were all sold out. I still did better than I expected considering my children have unusual names.

That night, Oma watched the girls so we could have a date night. We went to a hibachi cause it’s one of our favorite places. The people across the table were killing us with their special orders. They wanted barbeque steak. One – a Japanese restaurant does not have barbeque sauce to put on their Asian prepared steak. So they got a mix of teriyaki and hot sauce. Two – they ordered their steaks well done. So, painful. They’re daughter ordered double fried rice (which was a ton of rice since their portions were super large) and then exclaimed she didn’t like it and refused to eat it. She was a teenager by the way. This wasn’t a child who refused to eat the meal she ordered. Anyways, afterwards, we decided to go play putt putt. Josh tried to let me win, and I still managed to beat him anyways. I didn’t need any extra help, thank you very much.

On the way back to the MB House, we passed a TGIFridays, and I made Josh stop so we could get dessert since I love their Brownie Obsession. Poor Oma was still so sick so she went to bed and left the girls with Auntie Ang, but they were all in bed by the time we got home.  Ellabelle did get a special night walk with Auntie Ang on the beach.

Thursday morning, Ellabelle crept into our bedroom (like she does every morning) around 7:30. So, I decided we needed a Mommy-Bee beach date. With Mattie hating the water, it made taking them both to the beach a little more challenging, and this girl loves the water. So, I figured she would appreciate some extra wave time.


I borrowed Oma’s chair and let her go. Only thing was – she was not content to be out in the water alone. She kept coming back to talk to me and eventually managed to convince me to go out with her.

Watching her be out in the water was everything I had wanted for this trip – just pure joy from the very best nature has to offer. She reacted to the water the way I feel inside when I’m at the beach. That’s why it’s one of my happy places. I spent all of my summer vacations with my feet in that very same sand, loving the sea breeze and salty water (as long as it didn’t get in my eyes). I’ve wanted to provide her the same the opportunity to build those same memories. And thankfully, we were able to.

Afterwards, we planned on going to Barefoot Landing. EB decided she didn’t want to go. So, Mattie got some 1-on-1 time with mom and dad. We let her walk around which made her very happy.

She was terrified of the ducks though. Not sure why exactly. She ran and hid behind me on the water walk way when she saw them. She kept yelling, “No duck!” at them.


So, that’s soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, crabs, quarter-powered cars, and ducks that Mattie hates. Josh got her a giant pacifier lollipop. She loved it.


I’m always so happy when we get the chance to have some time alone with each of our girls.

We had another short beach day. I was cranky because I couldn’t go in the water. Thankfully, Josh was willing to take Ellabelle out.


He also let the girls bury him in sand. We tried to make him a mermaid, but it didn’t quite work out.


There were seagulls flying all around. Mattie lost it. She hid with Auntie Ang. So, final tally: soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, crabs, quarter-powered cars, ducks, and any non-flying birds. She’s a strange child.


We went to the Pirates Voyage dinner and show that night. It’s just like Dixie Stampede. So it was all food you eat with your hands. Ellabelle refused to touch any of it. Mattie loved it all. They both really liked the show. Ellabelle kept telling us about the mermaids she saw there.

After we got back to the MB House, Josh and I walked down to the pier one last time. I wanted to be on the water again before we left. He wanted to catch more pokemon.


Friday – it rained. That actually made it easier to leave. We were all packed and ready to go by 11:30, but we wanted to download a movie on the iPad for Mattie using the wifi. 2 hours later and there was an error with the download. 😒 We stopped at McDonalds, which took forever, and were finally headed home by 2pm. It felt like the trip home took twice as long as the trip down. We made it home around 4am. We were all so ready to sleep in our own beds.

The week was exhausting and wonderful. I hope that the memories Ellabelle made will last her forever. I know they will for me. We so desperately needed a step back from our day to day stresses so we could realign our priorities and perspectives. We are all so grateful that Oma and Opa made the whole trip possible. Ellabelle hasn’t stopped talking about it, and that is the best souvenir I could bring home.

Hippity Hoppity 

Easter started on Saturday for us. We went to the West Chester Fire Department’s Egg Hunt. It’s a fun event that the fire department puts on for the kids. I think it’s amazing because the firefighters buy and stuff the eggs themselves and then they run the event. It’s at a park near our house. The fields this year were covered in yellow dandelions as well as the fluffy seed version. The girls are obsessed with them so they kept picking as many as they could. 
They divide everyone up into age groups. We were lucky that both girls were in the 0-4 age group. So we lined up. They dump the eggs on the field and at 1pm sharp they honk the firetruck horn and everyone just runs. It’s literally like 30 seconds of egg collecting, but the kids love it. 


While we were waiting, we heard someone say, “Is this Matilda?” It was Mattie favorite friend from her babysitters! Her little friend was so happy to see her. Mattie just kept staring at her. Finally, about two minutes later, she smiled really big, pointed at her, and said, “Zoey!” I think she had a hard time placing her away from the babysitters house 😂


The girls had so much fun grabbing eggs. I was worried Mattie might be confused about what to do, but, once she picked up one egg, she wanted them all. Poor Josh had missed the hunt last year because he had Hand Foot and Mouth disease. So he was startled by the mob of kids and parents rushing 


Afterwards, we went to Mamaw and Papaw’s to visit for Mamaw’s birthday. The Easter bunny had left eggs there too! The girls hunted around the house, and Mattie was a pro at it by this point. She found more than Ellabelle, but thankfully she shared so they had an even number of gifts.  


That night, before bed, we planted our magic jelly beans. 


Actual Easter started like any other morning – Ellabelle running into our room to let us know she was awake. Only thing was she wasn’t suppose to be able to get to us. See the Easter bunny knew she’d come running through where all the eggs were hidden. So he put up the baby gate in her doorway. She apparently knows how to pull the lock out, lower, and move the baby gate. The Easter bunny did not know this. 🤦🏻‍♀️ She immediately whispered in excitement, “I saw easter eggs!”

I sent Josh to get Mattie up because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get Ellabelle to wait til she woke up. Josh made the mistake of letting Mattie stumble back to our bedroom. She does this every morning, but she kept stopping to grab eggs along the way. Finally he got her back to the bedroom. Once we were ready to actually hunt (bathroom used, diaper changed), we let the girls go free. 

Now, all week the weather report showed rain. It was suppose to rain overnight. So the Easter bunny was forced to hide the eggs inside. He also brought in the magic jelly bean lollipops. 


Turns out there wasn’t a drop of rain until noon in Easter Sunday. 😒 The inside hunt was still exciting for the girls. They loved running around, and Ellabelle did so good only picking up her color eggs. Mattie thought the whole thing was amazing and decided to use her shopping cart to hold her eggs. 


She wasn’t thrilled when I started opening them to show her there was items inside. She just wanted to shake the eggs. 


This year, the Easter bunny left us a very special scavenger hunt egg. It led to different places in the house and eventually told us to go to Oma and Opa’s house. The girls had eggs to hunt there as well. The Easter bunny even hid an egg at brunch! 


We colored eggs after brunch. This year no one broke any! 


And we played with bubbles because that’s what my two do. They’re bubble fiends. 


Our last clue from the scavenger hunt had us head home. When we got there, the Easter bunny had left a special beach basket for the girls. It had sunglasses, buckets and shovels, and a special mermaid outfit for each of them. 


The next weekend we had “fake” Easter with my mom’s side of the family. We had breakfast and another Easter egg hunt. The girls made over $50 total from there different hunts. 

Easter definitely made up for Christmas being so sucky. The girls had a blast, and that’s what holidays are all about for me. Making memories they’ll cherish and sharing traditions they’ll pass down is what matters most. The Easter bunny takes this round Santa 🐰>🎅🏻 You’ve got 8 months to step up your game, fat man.