Shattered Dreams

So this happened yesterday afternoon…

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I was standing outside, shooting the breeze with some neighborhood gals, when little miss Violet ripped the phone out of my hand and threw it on the ground. It landed on the cement driveway. Face down. Of course. When I picked it up, my friends’ faces contorted into comical cringes as “uuuuggghhhs” were exhaled around the informal circle. I responded by laughing because how else can you react to your baby demonstrating her softball prowess at such a young age? I can’t help but be proud of her athletic skill on display. Go Violet go!

I took the massacring of my iPhone as a possible sign that I should become a hands-free mom. I became excited at the thought of kicking’ it old school with a regular cell phone – phone calls and text only, please. I even logged into our ATT wireless count to see what non-smartphonen were available. Newsflash – none. Do we really live in a world where our only non-smartphone options involve a no-contract phone that requires purchasing minutes via a phone card? What’s next? Flatulence deodorizer pads? I also realized that having a cell phone without a good camera will make me feel more naked than pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair. And when I casually mentioned to Clay that I was considering getting rid of my iPhone, he laughed and said, “Yeah right. You wouldn’t survive without a smartphone.” And then he laughed some more.

I understand that my phone can easily be fixed at a kiosk at the mall but that would involve actually going to a kiosk at the mall. I am always weary about standing still in the middle of a mall because that makes me vulnerable. I constantly side-eye huge potted plants because kiosk salespeople will literally jump out from behind to present me a sample of hand cream crafted from the finest minerals of the Jordan River or offering to straighten my already straight hair.

Because I slice my finger and/or thumb every time I swipe to unlock the damn phone I must remedy the situation quickly. I also accidentally embedded a small piece of glass in my ear because I didn’t think to answer a call with the speaker function. Basically, I am a walking shards-o-glass popsicle. So that’s fun.

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Life with Two

Clay and I always knew that children would be part of our story but we had no desire to start a family during our first years of marriage. When asked about children, we would always answer someday. And then after almost five years of marriage, someday become the day we welcomed the little guy into our lives.

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Something funny happens when you have your first child – inquiries start as to when you’re going to have another. Well-meaning people offer their opinion on the perfect age-gap between children, some weave sad tales about the plight of only children, and others talk about the social responsibility of only having one child. We knew that having children super close together wasn’t in our stars and even accepted that the little guy could be our one and only after a devastating miscarriage. But then almost four years after welcoming our son, we were blessed with our little girl.

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And now that she is almost a year old (!!!), we’re occasionally asked if our family of four will ever become a family of five. The short answer is no. The long answer is that we’re not planning on it and feel 100% content with two children; but as the old adage goes ‘the best laid plans….‘. I have been giving away our baby items as Violet outgrows them and in doing so, I find myself excited for the things to come rather than being sad about not having an infant anymore.

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Weston will be five this fall and Violet is only weeks away from walking. As much as I love newborn snuggles, I feel much more in my element now than I did last year. I absolutely love being a mother to these two amazing kids and I can’t wait to see where the road leads us as a family of four.

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It’s been surreal to observe their personalities unfold and witness their similarities and differences. When looking at their picture, there is no doubt they’re siblings. But beyond their almost identical looks and same sunny dispositions are night and day differences. Weston is our cautious child while Violet exhibits daredevil traits. Weston is a sporadic eater and rarely hungry while Violet gobbles up everything in sight. And both love to cuddle and bring an indescribable amount of joy to our lives.

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Don’t get me wrong – there are certainly moments that are trying and have us throwing up our arms in exasperation. After the children are in bed, our first task almost always involves the pouring of a drink and soaking in the kid-free atmosphere. And I have cried the ugly cry about these two countless times. Parenthood continues to be the most humbling experience thus far in my life. But we have never once regretted our decision to bring children into this world. I’m sure some people will read this post and roll their eyes at my insistance that married life with children isn’t hell on earth. For some, it may be. But for us, it has been has been an incredible experience beyond our wildest dreams. Even with the insane amount of poop that seems to come with the territory.

Memorial Day Weekend

We had a very nice holiday weekend that was family-centric and filled with little reminders of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. As mentioned in the previous post, we went to Great Falls on Friday. And then Saturday morning, my brother, Scott, and his wife, Kelly, arrived to spend the weekend with us so we played tourists and checked out the memorials on the National Mall.

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While crowded, the National Mall over Memorial Day weekend is an incredible sight and totally worth visiting. In addition to run-in-the-mill visitors and locals, there were bikers to be seen everywhere, the majority of them in town for the Rolling Thunder’s Ride to the Wall. And most sobering, there were a lot of children wearing red shirts who were in town for the TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Good Grief Camp. Knowing that each and every one of those children lost a parent to war was a painful reminder of how war can be cruel and unfair.

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Each memorial was lined with flowers and multiple American flags flew high in the sky. The grounds were busy but for the most part, everybody was courteous, respectful, and cognizant of their significance. I’m not quite sure why but this time around, I was more drawn to the people visiting the memorials than to the memorials themselves. While I’ve seen the memorials countless times, I never tire of them which is probably a testament to their power and design.

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The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the busiest and quietest of all the memorials. Nobody spoke above a whisper and the sound of graphite being rubbed on-top of names permeated throughout the park.

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All along the wall were people standing on their toes, pointing to the names of people they knew as someone else in their group snapped a picture. Family and friends of the fallen quietly shed tears and impromptu memorial-like services occurred as stories of the KIA and MIA were shared among those who served with them and ultimately came home forever changed.

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The National World War II Memorial honors the 16 million who served during World War II and the more than 400,000 who died. The memorial was designed to recognize the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation. It really is a stunning memorial and has never looked as beautiful as it did over the weekend.

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I observed this man pull a purple heart out of his back pocket, place it next to the Army Air Corps seal, and take a picture. I am curious as to whether it was in honor of his father, uncle, grandfather, or even possibly a female relative who could have been part of the Women Airfoce Service Pilot (WASP) program.

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Scott and I took a picture in front of the Atlantic side of the World War II memorial in honor of our maternal grandfather who fought ‘over there’ and suffered life-long impairments due to his war experience. He passed away in 2011 and is buried at the Great Lakes National Cemetery.

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 Clay and Scott in front of the World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the background.

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One of my favorite moments of the day was coming across this man painting the often overlooked District of Columbia World War I memorial. As of right now, there is no national World War I memorial but the National World War I Memorial Foundation is currently working to establish one.

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I thought this was an amusing picture of Scott and Kelly (and baby Emma). You can see multiple people posing for pictures in front of the famous landmark.

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After walking around for a couple of hours, we grabbed a bite to eat from some food trucks and then headed back home. We spent the rest of the evening grilling steaks and sitting on the back deck talking. Because Scott and Kelly live in Georgia, we don’t see them very often so it was nice to catch up and just shoot the breeze.

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On Sunday morning, we loaded up our cars and caravanned up to Megan and Mike’s in Pennsylvania. Scott, Kelly, and Stella (their dog) beat us by about 30 minutes because their child is still in utero. Our crew consists of a 4-year-old, a 10-month-old, and a 70 pound dog so we’re not quite as fast to get from Point A to Point B. As usual, Mikey and Weston were ecstatic to see each other again.

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 Violet enjoyed playing on their new (gated!) back deck.

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 Weston and Stella.

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3/4 of the siblings. Unfortunately, our youngest sister, Julie, was unable to make it up for the weekend. Megan is due to  have little McKayla next week so we were on the lookout for any signs of labor!

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All the girls.

Kelly and Megan are both pregnant with little girls so Violet is anxiously awaiting their arrival!

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The men.

We drove back home on Monday and spent the rest of the day just hanging out. Scott and Kelly left yesterday morning and we’ve settled back into our routine after a nice little four-day break. We’re planning on heading back up to Pennsylvania as soon as Miss McKayla arrives so for Megan’s sake, I hope we’re making the drive sooner rather than later. It was wonderful to see Scott and Kelly and we very much appreciate them making the trip to visit us. All in all, a fantastic Memorial Day weekend.