December

I love December.

Because, as you know, I love Christmas. And December is basically just Christmas.

December is also the month of babies in my family this year. And, I mean, I don’t know, do you think I like babies?!

My “twin” cousin just had her little girl this morning and we’re all kind of betting on my sister-in-law having her little boy this week!

Combine those two things, Christmas and babies, and really what else do you need?!

I felt like I was going overboard with my Christmas shopping this year, but then I realized most of the stuff was for me…whoops. I’m really really enjoying the giving part of Christmas lately, though. I haven’t been able to give any suggestions for myself in years, but I have so many ideas for my parents, brother or sister-in-law, niece, or even friends. It’s a strange new era for me.

Another thing that’s strange for me is that I’m not really getting all of the familial warm and fuzzies I talked about in my last post. My dad and I are still doing all of the traditions, but my mom has no interest. Like, no interest.

I used to have an order that I would want to watch all of the Christmas movies in. I guess I thought it was important to her too, so I’d always wait for nights when we were all home. This year, when we tell her we’re watching a movie, she grabs a snack and watches her British dramas in her bedroom. Because she’s been so blatant about it, the magic has greatly diminished for me, so we’ve been *gasp* watching the movies out of order.

I also seem to remember at least 2 years when we had a little tradition of all of us putting the tree up together while watching (the first movie of the season) White Christmas. This year, while my friend and I were partaking in a Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life binge, my dad literally brought the tree home, set it on the deck and said “Okay, here’s your tree, Carrie.” put it in the stand (okay, with a little help), put the lights on, put the angel on top and put all of the ornaments on. There was no “we.” It was a little sad, honestly.

also put up all of the Christmas decorations around the house, which my mom used to help with.

The only tradition we’ve truly kept alive this year is my dad and I putting up the outdoor decorations together to avoid being sucked in to one of my mom’s projects.

I’m not trying to sound down. It’s just an adjustment for me. I’m starting to realize what my Christmases going forward might look like.

Growing up feels weird.

That’s why I need to hang out with all of these cute babies being born!!

I seriously cannot wait to meet the little dude!

Here’s the last calendar page for 2016:

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I haven’t decided yet if I will be sharing pages from next year’s calendar…cliffhanger.

Now that I see the page, I feel bad that I didn’t say anything about my best friend!! I think I summed it up pretty well last year! I love that dog more than any person (maybe he’s tied with that little girl)! He is literally the best, most constant and loyal friend I’ve ever had! Ugh, LOVE HIM. SO MUCH.

Merry Christmas!!

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October

I know I say this every month, but I cannot believe it’s October already. Today is the first really chilly day of the season. I can’t say cold, because compared to the temperatures we will be experiencing by Thanksgiving, this is just barely chilly.

We’ve been really busy these past few weeks! We’ve had birthdays upon birthdays upon birthdays. It was my mom’s birthday on the first Football Sunday, so of course she wanted to go on a historic homes tour during the game! But we won and she had fun, so it was a win-win! Then it was my brother’s birthday, which frankly, got skipped over and probably will be skipped over for the next 20 or so years because his daughter’s birthday is one week after his.

And boy did that girl celebrate.

They had a family birthday party at their house the weekend before her birthday and everyone loved it! It was only 10 of us and we all have great relationships with the birthday girl, so it was fun for everyone! Unlike last year, J knew exactly what was going on! She had farm balloons to show everyone as they walked in the door, she handed out napkins and cups (also farm themed) as people sat down in the living room, she entertained us as we waited for dinner, she was beaming when we sang “Happy Birthday” to her, she tried to blow out her candle, she scooped the cream out of her cream puff and wiped it all around her mouth and then posed for pictures, and she was fully aware of who all of the presents were from and for and how to open them! It was such a fun afternoon!

And then we got to watch her on her actual birthday, which her parents weren’t planning on playing up. But we were! We saved some of the presents for her to open and keep here. Her balance bike is her new favorite outdoor toy, her potty book is her favorite book to read and her magnetic blocks are her favorite indoor toys! We also took her shopping for some new fall clothes, let her run wild at a fun park designed for little kids in Stillwater, and let her eat french fries and a chocolate raspberry milkshake for lunch at a little 50’s-style diner near the river! We were all pooped when we got home, but it was, without a doubt, one of my favorite days with her!

(I also caught her singing “Happy Birthday Ju-ana” the other day! I think she likes her birthday!)

It’s so hard to believe that we’ve known her for two years already! It seems like forever ago and yesterday at the same time! And I really can’t believe that next year (literally by January) she will be a big sister! Watching a child grow really is one of the most amazing experiences. She is pretty much talking in sentences now. She is starting to try to say “Carrie” more. She says “I love you.”

All she was doing two years ago was sleeping on me. I can’t even remember how little she was. I’m so excited to experience all of that again and really soak it up more with her little brother, but I’m also really really loving this new stage with Juliana.

Being an aunt is the best thing that ever happened to me.

And October will always be the month that brought that to me.

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September

I think September is becoming one of my favorite months. May and September. They’re the best. I’m really loving the cooler temperatures right now! This summer was too hot.

August was pretty crazy. I turned 22, we toured the new Vikings stadium and attended the first ever (preseason) home game in it, we went to the county and state fairs, and I became the mom.

Let me explain that last one: My parents and my brother and sister-in-law took me to a show for my birthday and we ended up asking one of my best friends to babysit J at our house for the night. Well, I’m the one who watches her the most and knows her routines here, so I was the one giving the directions and checking in and having a hard time saying goodbye. I told my friend before we left that I felt like I was the mom! (They both had a BLAST with each other and I secretly loved being on the other side of it!)

I do have one regret about my birthday, though: we bought a cake. That has never been done in my lifetime. When my friend came over she was complimenting my mom and telling her that she really has this cake thing figured out. When we told her we bought it, she was so surprised she almost spit it out! That’s kind of the one thing you could always count on in our family: a homemade birthday cake. My mom’s birthday is in a few weeks, so I’m going to make an extra special cake for “her.”

One more birthday note: Juliana has kind of figured out the “Happy Birthday” thing. It started with my dad’s birthday and her saying “Happy Papa.” Then it was her mom’s birthday (“Happy Mama”). But for mine, she didn’t say “Happy Carrie,” because she can’t say my name. So I have been renamed “Tia,” which I actually think is adorable because it means aunt in Spanish. So I got some “Happy Tia” songs!

Now, on to September:

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As I mentioned, it’s my mom’s birthday this month. She has a rather unfortunate birthday, 9/11, but she came first so I’ve always chosen to celebrate the day as opposed to mourning. Last year was the first time that I actually felt like I was mourning with the rest of the country, because she was out of town so we had already celebrated her birthday the day before.

It’s also my brother’s birthday. And then pretty much immediately after that, the little girl will be two.

Honestly, I struggle with the grandma/Juliana relationship a little bit. I’m jealous, because I never remember having a really loving relationship with my mom. I loved her because she was my mom and that was that. There’s never been a deep connection, like there is with my dad. So instead of being happy for them and participating in the relationship, it almost makes me sad.

And even though my mom doesn’t approve of how many pictures I take of them, I can’t stop. They will both cherish these pictures someday.

The one thing about their relationship that does make me smile, is that when I have kids someday, they won’t remember their grandma the same way I do. They will remember her as the most loving, caring, supportive, and fun grandma they’ve ever known. This isn’t to say that she’s a bad mom, she’s not. We just don’t have as deep a connection as other mothers and daughters. Or grandmothers and granddaughters.

I’m excited for the next month and all of the changes it will bring. But I’m really, really, really excited to leave this heat behind. I’m ready for my Chai Tea Latte!

Happy September!

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August

cannot believe that it’s August already. Like, seriously. This year is just speeding by!

My birthday is in less than two weeks and it’s already looking like it may give last year a run for its money.

July definitely did feel like a whirlwind. We had so much going on, the weather has been crazy hot (by my standards) and I kind of ran myself ragged. I could use a little bit of a break and August doesn’t look like the month it’ll happen.

Fittingly, the mindset I had when I made the calendar page for this month is exactly where I’m at now: doubting.

Not that I don’t love all of these pictures. Because I totally do.

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These were my favorite pictures at the time.

I didn’t do any pictures of us together, like I did with the other birthday months, because my mom made me feel really insecure about them. I hate it when I let her (or anyone else) get inside my head like that. I look back at my first selfies with J fondly now and wish I had included them.

So I was thinking that I would share some of my favorite recent selfies with J.

But first let me just tell you about the pictures that are on the calendar.

I think the big one would have been included anyways, because it really is one of my favorite pictures of J’s first year.

The top one on the right is one of the first pictures where I remember thinking “Wow, she’s actually a kid.” Which of course seems crazy now, because she looks so little!

The bottom one on the right was actually taken on my birthday last year. It was one of the better pictures taken that day. She was a little under the weather, so she wasn’t her usual happy, energetic self. But she really enjoyed trying to play the rope game with Cocoa!

Now for some current faves!

I’m not going to go into specifics about each one, because I think they’re pretty much self-explanatory. These are the pictures I go to on the hard days.

I never understood why my parents always wanted a person in all of their vacation pictures, but I get it now.

I’ve taken thousands of pictures of Juliana’s life, but the most meaningful ones are the ones that convey our relationship.

Without me in them, where’s the proof that I was ever really there?

Anyway, this is my month and it should be about everything and everyone I love. I think it’s pretty obvious that I love this girl with my whole heart.

On that note, I kicked off August the right way yesterday! I had a great day with the girl and got to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making some of my new favorite meals: quiche in the morning and ribs/grill-pack potatoes/cucumber salad in the afternoon.

I apologize for being a little all over the place with this post, but it was actually very therapeutic!

Happy August!

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July

Sorry for the delay this month! But isn’t July always the busiest month of the year?

The first two or three weeks (so basically the whole month!) are always packed for us. It starts off with the 4th (which we actually mostly celebrated on the 1st this year) and then it moves right on in to party season.

We usually have our big family party near the middle of July, which means we start prepping promptly on the 1st of the month. We just finalized the menu this past weekend and figured out the arrangements for the bouncy house last night!

I really loved our 4th on the 1st celebration this year. The little girl was visiting one of her other families, so without her running around we could stay busy all day. I started power washing a big white fence and then got to create an edible masterpiece for my parents, their best friends and my best friend. We had shrimp tacos and grilled peaches with fresh raspberry sauce! So good! Then we all went out to burn down our massive brush pile! My kind of 4th!

Anyway, the real reason for this post is this:

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Throwback to her first July in January.

I was a little bit disappointed with the amount and quality of the pictures I got of her in Hawaii this year. So instead of going for the best pictures, I chose some that I thought best represented her stay with us. They spent their first three days on the island with us and then moved on to spend a week with the in-laws. They apologized for giving us the short end of the stick–they were all still adjusting to the time and weather during their few short days with us.

But Juliana loves looking at this month when she’s sitting on the “pah-ee!” She loves the picture of her and her daddy by the water (her first ocean experience!). She likes to say “me!” to the picture on the left and “silly” to the picture on the right!

She wore the outfit on the left the other day and it’s amazing how fast she grows out of clothes! I remember we went out to breakfast at our favorite breakfast place the morning the picture was taken and the skirt kept falling down to her thighs! Now it looks like it actually fits! She’s outgrown the shirt, though.

And the shoes she’s wearing in the picture on the right were not easy to find. We spent most of the week before they came looking for little baby water shoes. All the stores had bigger kid water shoes, but not little baby ones. So we got the smallest ones we could find! And they still fit her! Score! That picture was taken right after we went down to the pool where my favorite Juliana/Papa picture was taken:

 

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We wanted to go down and see if she had any interest in the water before we put her swimsuit on and brought all of her stuff down. Naturally, Papa was the only person who could get her in the water! He is without a doubt her favorite (non-mommy or daddy) person in the world.

(She made up a “Happy Papa” song this morning!)

I think she enjoyed her first Hawaiian vacation! Her mommy and daddy definitely saw the perks of our timeshare with a little one!

I don’t think they’ll be joining us next year…Her mommy and daddy will have their hands full!

Next month is my birthday, so the calendar is all about my favorites!

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Hi!

I was reminiscing during the little girl’s nap today and stumbled across this post from last summer. It’s not a memory that comes to mind often, so I’m really glad that I wrote it down. I don’t ever want to forget it.

My emotions have been living especially close to the surface lately, and rereading that post this afternoon pretty much made me melt. All of those emotions came flooding back.

I went in to check on Juliana after reading it, and she was sitting up in her crib smiling sleepily at her “meow.” She turned and looked up at me and immediately reached up to be held. She accepted my kiss (which she’s been starting to scold me for (“No!”)) and then really let one rip. We both giggled and she informed me that she wanted to sit on the “pah-ee.”

I did my funny little run to the potty with her in my arms. She was still showing off that charming little sleepy smile. I set her down to do her business and I could feel my love for her radiating out of me. I realized I had that big, stupid grin on my face.

Then out of the blue, she touched my nose. “Nossse.” Then she pointed at my eyes. “Eyesss.”

And then she looked right into my eyes and, with the sweetest little smile, cheerfully said “Hi!”

I couldn’t contain the giggles and I could feel my eyes starting to water.

I told her I loved her and she tried to repeat it.

There are just no words to describe how much I love that girl. No amount of “I love you’s,” hugs, or kisses will ever be enough.

never want to forget this feeling.

June

I’ve been busy, busy, busy since my last post. There’s been a lot to do outside lately, both work and fun. Friends finally started moving back home for the summer or for the near future (a downside to being the first in the friend group to graduate was that I was pretty much home alone all year). I’ve had lots of busy days with all my kiddos.

So I’m enjoying this beautiful (? the weather can’t decide) day alone at home. I get to recover/regroup a little bit and watch my second favorite sport: tennis. (Obviously football takes the top spot.)

And because it’s the first post of the month, here ya go:

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This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite pages of the calendar. Because of recent events, I might even say it is my favorite.

Not only is Father’s Day this month, but it’s also his birthday. In this family, June is pretty much dedicated to my dad. This should be a good month for Juliana, because he’s pretty much her favorite person.

One of the clearest words that comes out of J’s mouth these days is “papa!” She LOVES her papa! Whenever he’s home, she wants to be with him, or at least keep a close eye on him.

She used to call both of my parents “gaga,” but I kept working with her on at least saying “gapa.” Then one day, she just started calling him papa. And she hasn’t stopped.

She’s usually up in her room when we go pick her up in the morning, and as soon as we close the front door, we can hear the “papa” chant starting. Eventually it turns into a scream and she just erupts into giggles when she sees him! It’s the cutest thing ever.

And he just adores her. He’s always a bit leary about watching her all by himself, but he’s so obviously proud when he makes it through a day with no help.

It’s no secret to everyone that really knows him that he’s an emotional guy. He really can’t hide his emotions when it comes to his little girls (me and J). His smiles are often accompanied by wet eyes when they are directed at that little girl.

They are both such goofballs! He is definitely influencing that side of her. My mom and I sometimes think he takes it too far, but J loves it every time. He can turn her crying into giggles faster than anyone.

One of her new tricks is pointing out his “toys” in the barn. She’s now old enough to have seen him use pretty much all of them, so she knows what she’s talking about! And every time she hears a lawn mower, she says “papa mow!”

They are my favorite people in the world, so I love watching their relationship grow!

Next month is all about J’s first July in January!

Hopefully I’ll have some time to post more this month, but if not Happy June!

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