November

I’ve been a little preoccupied this month.

I live in an extremely political family and there’s a divide, so I’ve pretty much been holding my breath for the past 2-3 weeks. I can’t wait for the election to be over–I know the talk will continue, but at least there’ll be an answer to the question that has been the center of family conversations for the past 2 years. (I’m also kind of excited to watch the results come in, whichever way it ends up going!)

To help me cope with the 24/7 election talk and Vikings downturn (Boo!), I’ve become a bit of an exercise nut. When the weather allows, I go for multiple walks a day and my evenings are spent on our brand spanking new sit down elliptical! I get to watch whatever I want (which is never news) and don’t feel one ounce of guilt about it!

What does make me feel guilty now is every minute spent on my computer. I kind of can’t stand sitting still now. Which hasn’t given me much motivation to keep writing. But here I am! It’s finally a cool, cloudy day and my dad has all of the shades down, per dermatologist’s orders.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things concerning the little girl lately. I love taking pictures of her, but no one else appreciates it, so it’s been a bit of an internal battle. A few months ago I was really excited to make a photo album of all of the fun times we’ve had with her this year, but now I’m struggling with that, too. I also realize that this year she has been the main topic of my blog posts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–she’s kind of the best part of my life right now.

The problem is she’s not my daughter.

If she was my daughter, these wouldn’t even be considerations for me. I would take as many pictures as I wanted and make as many photo albums as I wanted and write as many posts about her as I wanted.

My mom, rather bluntly, reminded me that there are other people in Juliana’s family who might feel jealous of our relationships with her. Some weeks we end up spending more awake time with her than her parents, and I love that, but she has other family that she only sees a few times a year.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for me, but I feel like I have to work this out before her brother is born in a few weeks.

I don’t know what that means for this blog, though.

I love documenting all of this for myself, but do I really need to be sharing it all with the world? Should all of the energy I’ve been putting into this blog be going into a book specifically for Juliana with all of the stories of her childhood? Should I leave my comfort zone and get my own freaking life?

I struggle because I want to have an amazing relationship with my niece (and soon with my nephew) but I don’t know how that looks if I’m not here taking care of them.

I don’t know what my life looks like without them in it almost every day.

Anyway, things might be changing around here.

I just really needed to write all of that out and see it all put together as opposed to random strings of thought in my mind.

Here’s the calendar page for this month:

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She really liked hats last year!

I hope the rest of November can be a little less heavy.

US: PLEASE VOTE.

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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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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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May

It’s May! Yay!

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This girl has been at our house all month! Okay, so it’s only May 2nd. But she did have another AWESOME sleepover here last night!

I hope this becomes a semi-regular thing, because I FREAKING LOVE IT. I’m actually less stressed about all things baby today than I am when we only have her for the day. I think we kind of get in a groove.

This is actually a perfect tie-in, because the weather is just starting to really take a permanent turn towards summer (I hope) and the caption on the calendar this month is “It’s almost Summer!” Juju is wanting to spend almost all of her time here outside, and I don’t blame her.

This girl loves dresses. And she loves to go outside and play in her dresses. Well, this is dress season. (She also loves pulling her dress up and showing off her belly!)

Unlike her daddy, she actually didn’t mind grass from the first time we set her down in it. Last year, before she was really mobile, she actually seemed to prefer laying on the grass instead of a blanket. This year, she’s all about cleaning the grass. She collects twigs and dandelions. Her car is getting a little full.

And she is the ultimate water baby. She LOVES getting wet. She especially loves getting her clothes wet! A swimsuit is fun, (and usually means swimming in the big person pool!) but it means business. Getting her clothes wet means it was more spontaneous.

This year she is much more adventurous with the “toys” around the yard. She has a biiiig slide and a baby slide, a baby swing and a large disc swing, a water table, wind chimes, a shovel, two ladders, a pogo stick, a big fence, a garden cart, a baby car, a baby tractor, and two golf carts. And she loves them all. And wants to go outside and do each activity every day.

And in about a month she’ll also have a baby pool and a big person pool to swim in. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

But it makes her happy.

I’ll try to get everything organized and actually write a post about our little sleepover last night, because it’s worth sharing. Everything actually went extremely smoothly. So far.

Check back next month for another page from the calendar! Hint: it has to do with the person (person, not animal) she talks about most (behind mommy and daddy, of course!).

Happy Monday and Happy May!

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Read a Book With Silly Rhymes

We only had one day with the babe last week, but it was a good one!

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After her nap, she was in a reading mood. She brought her three new favorite books over to grandpa, got her sippy and her puffs, and climbed up on the couch next to him.

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I have never seen her so patient. Usually she’ll bring you a book, sit in your lap, let you read three pages and then she’ll leave to find the next one.

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She actually let grandpa read the whole book each time.

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“MORE!”
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“Seriously, grandpa. Read it again!”

She even asked for more Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. She loves the “OH, NO!”

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She’s starting to warm up to The Tickle Monster. It’s still not a book that she’ll completely sit through, but there are times when it’s the best thing ever. This was somewhere in the middle.

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“Llama needs his fuzzy near…”
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“But, FUZZY LLAMA ISN’T HERE!” (To which she usually responds “Oh, no!”)

She also loves her Llama Llama books. She hadn’t seemed very interested in this book, so I was (pleasantly) surprised when she handed it to grandpa! She really likes to read Llama Llama Nighty Night before she goes to sleep (“…read a book with silly rhymes…”).

And how can I not share these adorable pictures (even if they’re unrelated)? She loves her rainboots! She wanted to wear them pretty much all day!

Ugh, she’s such a little sweetheart! And I get to have another sleepover with her this week! Yay!

Happy Monday, everyone!

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