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This past weekend, we traveled to Virginia to meet up with Jim’s brothers and their wives plus one nephew and another babe on the way, plus his mom, aunt, uncle and grandmother. It was nice to see everyone, especially since we won’t be traveling this holiday season due to baby #2’s arrival. There’s a picture of Molly with her cousin Wrigley that I will have to post, but I think it’s on Jim’s phone, so I’ll have to track that down.

The three of us were sharing a room and we brought blankets to create a pallet for Molly to sleep on, but as expected, she wanted none of that. She also didn’t want us to leave her when we tucked her in. You would think I would have embraced a 9 pm bedtime, but that would have only been if she had let me sleep. At one point, Jim and I were hanging on for dear life on the edges of the queen size bed while Molly sprawled horizontally across the bed.

She had a fever and what we now know is bronchitis, so her sleep was restless at best. Non-existent at worst.

On Saturday night, I thought she had fallen asleep, so I tried to slip out of the bed to get some water and visit with my brothers-and-sisters-in-law. As I was slowly sitting up, Molly slid her hand up my arm, grabbed hold of me just above the elbow and said, “Gotcha.”

I could hear the grin in her voice.

“Lay down Mom.”

And all night long, she maintained a grip on me. My arm, my shirt, even my ponytail at one point. As uncomfortable as the nights were, I loved how needed she made me feel in this time of testing boundaries and exerting independence.

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It’s been busy around here, getting back into a routine after several weeks of nothing-ness over the holidays. Molly started back to school, then got sick. We’re currently potty training {which deserves it’s own post…}. My school semester started back and Sweet Birdie’s Nest is rockin’. And I celebrated a birthday!

I enjoyed a two-week celebration, including a girls’ dinner at Cantina; a much needed mani/pedi with Jessica; lunch; dinner with Jim, Molly and my mom; drinks with Jim, Meredith & John;  a weekend in Asheville; and a family dinner to celebrate mine and Jackson’s birthday. {And the fun’s not over – I’m looking forward to another dinner out on Saturday to celebrate mine, Caroline’s and James’ bdays this weekend and a get-together with Lauren and Sarah on Friday!} I’m definitely feeling the love this month!!

Jim and I had a blast in Asheville. I was very hesitant to leave Molly for some reason, but very much enjoyed the weekend away with my husband! We left Charlotte at lunchtime on Friday, checked into the The Blake House Inn, grabbed a snack, then headed back to the inn for a massage. After the massage, we headed into downtown Asheville for a yummy dinner and then had hot chocolate at a very hip chocolate lounge. It was SO cold, but that’s exactly what a I wanted! We had a leisurely Saturday, wandering around downtown Asheville. We did a little shopping and a lot of eating. And we got to talk to each other without constant interruptions or picking up of random objects off the floor. I was ready to head home on Sunday, though, to see my Peach!

A HUGE thank you to my mom and dad for keeping Molly so we could get away for the weekend!

I’m hosting a Junior League meeting at my house tomorrow night {watch Sweet Birdie’s Nest for details and pictures from the event} and I’ve been working on some projects around the house that I hope to share soon. And hopefully I’ll have a good report to share about Molly’s potty training!

 

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Things are always so interesting around here, and Molly keeps us laughing with her sayings and responses. Her teachers say she’s a real jokester at school, too.

Some of my favorite Molly-isms of late:

The other day, Jim asked Molly for a hug.

She thought for a moment and replied, “Fist bump or high five.”

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There’s a random picture of Molly on the dining room table {I had moved it for Christmas decorations and now need a new place to put it.} At dinner tonight, Molly said, “Is that Molly?”

Jim replied, “Yes, that’s you.”

Molly exclaimed, “She’s SO pretty.”

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Molly loved Christmas music this season. We sang a LOT of fun songs, including “Jingle Bells,” over and over again. Then {this seems unrelated, but keep reading…}, Nana and Pro gave Molly a Belle doll for Christmas.Molly oohed and ahhed over the pretty princess and we told her the doll’s name was Belle. A while later, we heard Molly talking to her doll.

“What did Molly just call her doll?”

“I think she’s calling her Jingle,” my mom said.

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That girl cracks me up. I love her.

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We had a very fun and busy holiday season! We enjoyed lots of great time together as a family; I am so grateful Jim was able to take some time away from work. Molly and I are going to miss him dearly when he goes back to the office next week!

The week before Christmas, we had a cookie decorating party on Tuesday and celebrated Jim’s 36th birthday on Thursday. Molly and I took Jim out for burgers for lunch, and Nana kept Molly so Jim and I could go out to a nice dinner to celebrate.

We visited Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas lights {will post *cute* pictures in a separate post!} and took Molly to McAdenville, aka Christmas Town USA. She loved it and has been asking about it ever since.

Jim and Molly decorated more sugar cookies on Christmas Eve and we went to the carols and candlelight service at church. Then, we dressed Peaches in her Christmas pj’s, put out the reindeer food and cookies for Santa, and read the Christmas story before putting Molly to bed so Santa could visit.

And what’s the best part of baking? The bonus, of course!

 

 

My parents went to church with us and stayed for baked ziti, salad and sugar cookies.

On Christmas morning, Molly woke up around 7:30; we opened gifts here and then went to my mom’s house. Beverly, Ben, Jackson, Benjamin and Addison also joined us for breakfast and gifts. My dad always makes eggs and sausage, and it wouldn’t be Christmas morning without sausage balls! We came home for naps all around and then headed back to my parents’ for dinner. Christmas night dinner has always been my favorite: We always have a good spread of yummy sandwiches and snack foods. This year we had bbq sandwiches, ham delights {a personal favorite!}, sausage balls, chex mix, buffalo chicken dip, mac & cheese, baked beans, and parmesan bacon dip.

We also had cupcakes and sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus after dinner.

On Monday evening, we all went to my Grandma and Grandaddy’s for dinner and then on Wednesday, Jim’s parents came to visit to wrap up the Christmas celebrations.

My little family had a wonderful Christmas season. I am so fortunate to have a loving husband and a beautiful, sweet baby girl to celebrate with. It meant a lot that Molly enjoyed the story of Jesus’ birth and searched for nativities all over town. She loved looking at Christmas lights and our Christmas tree. Seeing the holiday through a child’s eyes – MY child’s eyes, at that – brings a new meaning to the holiday. I wanted this to be a special time for her, and I truly think it was a magical two weeks. She was excited to “hang out” with us, ate too many sugar cookies, stayed up too late and was incredibly exhausted, which made for some trying times; however, the fun and sweet times outweigh those more difficult moments and I hope we were able to create some wonderful memories and beginnings of lifelong traditions for her.

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I know that Molly and I will go through a phase when she thinks *everyone* else is cooler than me.  I just hope that it’s short-lived and that eventually she will realize that I really am a wealth of knowledge.  It didn’t take me long to realize my mom was pretty cool.  I was the college student that would sit on my balcony and call my mom first when I had any news and in high school {and after, when I lived at home for a while in grad school} I would come home on Friday and Saturday nights and sit on an embroidered stool by her bed and tell her about my night.

So even though it’s not Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking a lot of moms and daughters and I realized that my mom has taught me a lot so far.  {And I’m sure the lessons haven’t stopped, either!}  So, this is my Top 10 Things My Mother Has Taught Me list – all things that I hope to eventually teach Molly.:

1.  Compassion and Empathy – My mom always challenges my sisters and I to think about the other person in a situation, and this lesson has served me well. Love fiercely, serve without asking questions, and don’t judge.

2.  Wear sunscreen. I think the message has finally hit home:  a wide brim hat and SPF are the best summer accessories.

3.  Cooking is overrated.  Don’t me wrong, I *love* food, but I don’t particularly enjoy the act of preparing my own food. Neither does my mom. We both have a series of easy to prepare, tasty recipes and no one at our houses has starved to death yet. There are so many things I’d rather be doing than cooking, and my mom made me realize that my husband and child don’t need a gourmet meal every night – or ever, really – in order to be happy.

4.  Charity.  As children, we would periodically donate clothes and toys to Goodwill or Salvation Army, and I have fond memories of going to the mall at Christmas, choosing names off the Angel Tree and then shopping for clothes, toys and necessities for children less fortunate than us.  My sisters and I never wanted for anything {although there times when I’m sure we thought we did} but my mom made sure we were aware some children didn’t even have coats to wear in the winter. Being actively involved in helping others is a lesson I hope to share with Molly.

5.  Take pictures WITH my daughter. I have a handful of pictures of my mom and me over the past 30 years. I wish I had more, therefore I am making an effort to be in more pictures with Molly.  Even though I don’t like the way my teeth look.  Even though I don’t like how I can tell that my left eye is more closed than my right.  Even though I don’t like to look at pictures of my thighs, and in pictures from the beach, I’m going to see my thighs because I refuse to wear dark jeans on the beach.  Even though pictures are great at pointing out my imperfections, I hope that Molly loves me enough to not notice them and focus instead on the happy expressions on our faces and the fact that I love her enough to be in the pictures in the first place.

6.  Life isn’t *always* a competition.  Although my mom thinks we’re the best, she always recognized that we weren’t actually the best at everything and strived to help us be okay with that fact.  I wasn’t always okay with that, but now that I have a child of my own and I see the constant competition at school, on the playground, and even at the grocery store, I hope to teach Molly that “keepin’ up with the Joneses” isn’t the happiest way to live.

7.  It’s okay to cry.

8.  Paint is an easy and affordable way to change things.  Paint and then paint again.  And then paint again.  {And marry a man that will humor your painting whims.}

9.  The beach is the only place to vacation.  We made a yearly trek to the Carolina coastline every summer, sometimes multiple times a summer.  Once we could smell the salt air and feel the hair on our heads curling up, all was right with the world.  We still make a yearly beach trip and I still feel that there’s no where else I’d rather be.

10.  When in doubt, wear black.

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I’m participating in Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop this week.

 

 

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For the first time in I don’t know how many weekends, no one at our house was sick.

We had a great weekend together and enjoyed the beautiful weather – Mexican food Friday night, the park (for Molly, Nana, and me) and golf (for Jim) on Saturday, dinner with friends Saturday night, errands and lunch on Sunday, and then Beverly and I had a Sweet Birdie’s Nest meeting.  We wrapped up the weekend with family dinner at our favorite pizza joint, Hawthorne’s.  I felt like we actually had a good mix of productiveness and fun.  {Although for me, productive and fun usually go in the same sentence!  I’m a dork like that.}

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The park in our neighborhood is situated right by the railroad tracks and this weekend, I have a whole new appreciation of that train.  Usually, I’m annoyed because it’s so close to the house and it never fails to come when I have no time to spare.  And then it’s really hard to turn left off our street.  Or, I remember when I had a 45-minute commute home from work and I’d be 30 seconds from home but the lights would start flashing as I approached the tracks.  However, watching Molly watch the train speed past was one of the coolest things I’ve witnessed.  Mind you, we see the train every day.  She can see it from her crib in the winter when there are no leaves on the tree and I’m worried we’re going to lose the blinds on her window because she pulls them back and chants, “Choo Choo” or “Twain Twain” while she’s supposed to be napping.  And she sees it on a regular basis from the car.  But she saw it up close for the first time on Saturday, and her mouth formed a big “o” and she pointed and gasped and then ran the length of the park like she was chasing the train.  It was pure wonderment and I loved it.

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a Dairy Queen less than a mile from our house.  It’s one of the “old fashioned” ones where you stand in line outside and order from the window.  My parents used to take us there as children and now I love that I get to take Molly.  Well, usually I love it.  I gave up sweets for Lent, but Jim and Molly didn’t.  After pizza last night, Jim wanted ice cream, so I sat in the car while he and Molly shared a Blizzard.  A Snickers Blizzard, which is my favorite.  I have a feeling Lent is going to be a loooong 6 weeks this year!

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I’m wanting to make some small changes to our house; we’ve lived here five years this month and with the exception of a few new pieces of furniture and Molly’s room, everything has stayed the same.  I really want to freshen things up and organize the house so it works for us.  It’s so funny because Jim thinks we’ve made a lot of changes {which we have done a lot, mind you, it just depends on who you ask as to HOW much we’ve done!} and I think it looks the same as it did when we moved in, except for the paint colors!  But anyway, my first priority {well, today’s first priority – it could change tomorrow!} is to paint the family room and update some of the accessories.  I bought new pillows for the couch last week that I love and we tried out two paint colors.  Jim likes the one we currently have on the wall, and while I do too, I think the room will seem bigger if we go lighter.  And, as you can tell, we will obviously – eventually – do something, since we already started the job.

I’ve already decided which one we’ll use but could probably be easily swayed…want to vote?  Let me know “left” or “right” in the comments.  I’d love to see if your opinion matches mine!

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I love a day that celebrates love, don’t you?!  Jim and I learned a few years ago that going out on Valentine’s Day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, so we’re going to make dinner at home tonight and save our date night for another night.  But I’m still looking forward to some cheesy fun with Molly – we made Valentine’s for her class party today and who knows, maybe I’ll use a heart-shaped cookie cutter for her peanut butter sandwich.  Having a kiddo of my own brings new light to these kinds of holidays – now I’m one of those suckers at Target that is totally lured by the heart-shaped pot holders and place mats and hand towels covered in pink, red, and purple hearts.

Happy Valentine’s Day from our home to yours!  I hope you get to spend the day with someone you love.

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