I won’t forget you, 22

Twenty-two is definitely going down in the books as my favorite age (well..so far, anyway).

On my birthday last year (which, by the way, was spent in the hospital on our vacation in Florida due to a bad stomach bug + pregnancy) I had no idea what the year would bring. Looking back at everything that has happened this past year, I am completely overwhelmed by the goodness of God and His grace in my life and the lives of others.

At the age of 22 I became a mother, a college graduate and a nurse. It was the year so many of the dreams I had for my life came true. I grew a lot as a wife as my husband and I started adjusting to our new roles as parents together. I had the privilege of watching my loving husband become a daddy (I still find myself watching him in awe sometimes as he fits the “daddy” role so unbelievably well). I developed a faith in God like I’ve never had before. I realized how fortunate we are to be surrounded by so many amazing friends and family members.

It definitely wasn’t a perfect year. It was filled with plenty of ups and downs, its own set of trials, lots of tears and some heartache. There were times I was discouraged, completely sleep deprived, running away from God, and even miserable at some points in the year. But… It was a year I will never forget and God used those hard times to teach me lessons I never would have learned otherwise. The ups were great and the downs were bad, but God saw us through it all. Even when I lacked trust for my faithful God, He took care of us. He taught me so much about Himself this year. He showed me that even when we lack faith, He is still in control and He is still God. He gave me grace for every day – even when I wasn’t necessarily looking to Him for it. I learned that His plan is far better than my own, even when I think I know it all (which, let me tell you, I definitely don’t). He is good regardless of our circumstances and He will continue to be good despite our failures and human imperfections.

22 was a year full of a lot of milestones & life lessons.
I am so excited to see what God has planned for 23!

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Paisley Grace: 10 months

We fall more in love with this sweet girl every single day.
I cannot believe 10 months has already gone by!! 
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At 10 months old she:
– Crawls EVERYWHERE. And she’s a quick little girl, too!! We are constantly chasing her around.
– Loves to clap her hands, dance, whistle, and laugh.
– Stands up all the time! She has even gotten brave enough to walk along the furniture and take steps with her walker but no steps on her own quite yet!
– Makes the funniest faces! She especially loves to copy the faces/noises of other people!
– Dropped her late afternoon nap and is now takes 2 naps a day.
– Has NINE teeth. That’s right, nine. (4 on top, 5 on the bottom) She is always smiling and showing them off. Oh & she’s in the process of cutting at least 3 more right now!
– Loves the songs “PaddyCake” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.”
– Got to spend a special week with her Grandma Sparkles when she came to visit us!
– Is such a little ham. She’s always trying to make people laugh and show off all of her little tricks.
– Waves “bye-bye” and “hello.” Even to strangers at the grocery store.
– Is such a curious little girl. She is always getting into everything. She definitely keeps us on our toes.
– Has a mommy who is now officially a Registered Nurse! (Paisley went back to her daycare for a couple of weeks so she could have fun while I studied – it paid off because we found out on June 17th that I passed my state boards).
– Is NOT a big fan of cuddling. Unless you’re giving her a bottle, she’s extremely tired, or she’s not feeling well, good luck getting cuddles from Paisley Grace.
– Thinks it’s so funny to try to climb up the stairs. (Don’t worry – we have a baby gate now!)
– Weighs 23 pounds! She’s in the 60th percentile for weight and the 20th for height.
– Still won’t let us keep bows or clips in her hair. (Hence the crazy hair in most of her 10 month pictures)
– Loves to say “Dada.” That’s all I hear all day long. “Dada. Dada. Dada.” She will say “Baba” sometimes and has pretty much  stopped saying “Mama” altogether. So, she’s just all about her daddy right now!
– Is wearing size FOUR diapers and is in 6-9 month & 12 month clothes.
– Really, really likes to eat. We have yet to find a food she doesn’t like!
– Got to go to the zoo on Memorial Day!
– Is currently in 12-hour wear with her brace. She only has to wear her boots and bar through the night until she’s 4! She’s such a trooper & her feet are still looking great!
– Loves anything that involves being outside. The swings, the park, the pool – you name it. She’s our nature girl.
– Is such a huge blessing to us and we absolutely love being her parents
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Paisley Grace – we love you to the moon and back!
Happy 10 months of life, little one!

Paisley Grace: 9 months

Paisley Grace is 9 months old. Unbelievable.
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At 9 months old she:
– Loves to eat Cheerios. Well really, she loves food in general…but especially Cheerios!
– Learned how to shake her head “No.” It’s pretty adorable and she knows it makes people laugh so she does it all the time!
– Can stand up! She started pulling herself up on furniture this past week! (May 12th!) Now she tries to stand up all the time — exciting, but dangerous!
– IS A CRAWLER! She actually started crawling on April 18th at 8 months old! (Only about a week after she figured out how to roll around all over the house) Now she’s a pro and she crawls everywhere. She’s a quick little thing, too! She keeps me busy for sure!
– Is wearing a few 6-9 month clothes but is mainly in 9-12 month stuff now. She’s also in size FOUR diapers. WHAT?!?!
– Had her LAST DAY at daycare on May 8th. We were so blessed to have an amazing teacher at a daycare we loved who helped care for Paisley Grace so I could finish school.
– Loves to to make people laugh!
– Says “Mama” “Baba” and “Dada” – I think she’s starting to use those 3 “words” with meaning behind them. She will say “Dada” when I show her a picture of him and when he comes home from work she says it a lot!
– Has a mommy who has officially been pinned as a nurse and is college graduate with a bachelor’s of science in Nursing! The most exciting part about that? We get to spend more time together!!
– Won’t let us put headbands on her head any more…She always pulls them off. Only hair clips for now!
– Got to spend a lot of time with special family members who traveled to SC for graduation! She got to see her Grandma & Grandpa Jennings, Aunt Kassidy, Great Grandma Gill, Uncle Todd & Aunt Christine (all the way from NJ) and Jacqui! She even recognized her Grandma and Aunt Kassidy from Facetime. It was precious.
– Makes a hilarious “smile” face that looks more like she’s going to scream but she’s just happy as can be. I can’t get over her funny faces she makes!
– Isn’t the biggest fan of men she doesn’t know. She gives them a mean look and if they say hi to her or get too close she’ll freak out.
– Had a wonderful first Mother’s day Holiday with mommy. We went out to breakfast with all our family before they headed back home. Then we had a relaxing day at home and went out for Sushi with mommy & daddy at their favorite sushi restaurant in town.
– Is such a HAPPY baby. She is always smiling with her 4 big teeth (2 top, 2 bottom).
– Brings so much happiness and laughter to our home. She is such a joy to be around.

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To my Mom: On my First Mother’s Day as a Mommy

There are not enough words to tell you just how thankful I am for you. I am so blessed to be your daughter. You’re a wonderful mom & one of my closest friends.
Now that I’m a mom myself, I hope and pray that my daughter and I can be as close as you and I are when she grows up. Becoming a mom has made me realize how much I look up to you. Now that you’re a grandma, I can also see that motherly love completely overflowing into an amazing grandmotherly love. It’s a really incredible thing to be a part of.
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It might sound weird, but several of the lessons I learned from you came from me simply sitting back and watching how you handled various situations in your life. It reminds me that my daughter will look to me to see how I respond to situations in my own life, and I pray that she will also be able to one day say that I taught her well.

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There are so many things I admire about you. You are the kind of person that doesn’t even realize how amazing they are. You’re beautiful and humble. (You also have flaws – several of which I have inherited, too – but you’re human, so that’s expected). As I am going through this new journey of motherhood myself, I feel like I am constantly reflecting on and clinging to so many of the life lessons you have taught me throughout the years. I also find myself bringing to mind traits I admire about you, which I desire to implement myself as I continue to grow as a mom. If I took the time to write out everything, I would never finish – but here are a few of the things that I want to say “Thank You” for:

You have shown me what it means to be a strong woman, even when being strong is the hardest thing to do. You have been through some of the most difficult things I could imagine and you have shown amazing strength and stability through them all. I admire you for going back to college and graduating with honors all while caring for two kids and your dad after grandma passed away. That must have been beyond difficult to do. I remember your college graduation and how excited you were to finally be finished. You were a huge inspiration for me to continue in school.
I will never forget how strong you were when your dad was very sick in Hope Hospice and getting ready to leave this earth and be with the Lord. Somehow, you knew exactly what to do and say to make those scary moments almost peaceful. Your strength in those moments, and many more, were (and are) so inspirational to me.
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You have taught me what it means to love unconditionally.
I have seen you forgive others and restore friendships time and time again. I have watched as you offered forgiveness to those who have wronged you without holding a grudge or keeping score of wrongdoings. I have experienced first-hand your unconditional love during my teenage years when I thought I knew what I was doing in this life. (We both know now, I didn’t have a clue). You never gave up on me. Thank you. I remember when I went on a trip away from home you wrote notes for me to read every single day that I was gone. Those notes spelled out your desire for me to have a true heart for the Lord and to live my life for Him. Your unconditional love as a mom is something that I especially want my children to see in me one day.

You have shown me what it means to truly be selfless. You will do anything for anyone. You’re always willing to help other people, even if it means staying up till 4 in the morning to finish your own work. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched you put your own work aside in order to help someone else with something. You have been there for several of your friends as they’ve gone through difficult times, even if you weren’t necessarily having it easy yourself. You can have the busiest schedule, yet you somehow manage to take time to help meet the needs of other people.

You have taught me what it means to always be there for others. Whether it’s for advice, Godly wisdom, a good laugh, or just someone to talk to – you’re always there to listen and offer help. When I’ve had a bad day, you’re almost always first person I call. From finding out I was pregnant to calling you about the death of my teacher and everything in between – you have been there for me and somehow you always know exactly the right words to say. You didn’t think twice when I asked you if you could come to South Carolina when I was 38 weeks pregnant because Gus worked nights and I was scared I would go into labor while he was gone. (Even though little miss decided to wait until several weeks later to actually have a birthday!) You have been by my side encouraging me and cheering me on through so many important life events and I am very grateful!!

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You have taught me what it means to be silly. Actually, a complete goofball. We have plenty of home videos and pictures to prove that. You really just taught me to not care about what other people think about me. I love that you’re not afraid to be crazy and sometimes downright embarrassing (or trying to be, anyway). Between your vines, silly “Grandma Sparkles” posts, and hilarious texts – you are one of the funniest people I know. You’re so much fun to be around and I you have a special way of making people smile.

You have taught me that I can’t make everyone happy. I remember learning this lesson very distinctly when I was about 11 years old and you put me back into ballet classes (after I had already been out of them for a while). After three or four classes, I left the dance lesson with tears in my eyes. When we got to the car, you asked me what was wrong. I was afraid to tell you because I didn’t want you to be disappointed that I didn’t want to be a dancer like you were. You explained to me lovingly that I can’t make everyone happy and that if I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t have to do it. I never went back to a dance class. I have learned this lesson so many times since that point – including when we were working on the seating chart for my wedding. It is a lesson I’m thankful to learn because this people pleaser has to remind herself of it often.

You have taught me how important it is to let your kids chase their dreams. I’m pretty sure that growing up, you let me chase every dream I ever even thought of. Whether it was modeling, gymnastics, dance, horseback riding, acting, or swimming – you have always made it possible for us to try new things and encouraged us along the way. (Even if I was terrible and I never could even do a cartwheel properly). I can’t tell you how many equestrian shows, swim meets, gymnastics lessons, or audition tapes you probably had to deal with over the years. Thank you for all of that. No, I never became an olympic athlete or some famous actress – but I made wonderful memories with you I’ll never forget. I guess you got that from your mom! I know she was that kind of mom for you (taking you out of school to go to New York for modeling/acting gigs, etc. I love that about you and I hope that I can also be that kind of mom to my daughter.

You have shown me what it looks like to be a Godly woman. You don’t walk around with your chin in the air looking down on other people. There’s isn’t a “holier than thou” atmosphere about you at all. You have a special love for people that I know is rooted in your love for God. When I was younger, I stumbled upon some of your journals where you poured out your heart and your requests to God. I’ve also read several of grandma’s journals that were given to me. You are a lot like your mom when it comes to trusting fully in God. That’s something that’s difficult for a worrier like me and it’s convicting to see a faith as strong as yours. I know you have seen Him answer specific prayers many times. You know you’re not perfect, yet you love God with your whole heart. I admire this about you and I hope that I can be an example like that to my children.

58808_424047094564_7155479_nI could go on and on. My point is that I love you and I am very thankful for you. You have taught me so much and even though I still feel completely unprepared for this whole “motherhood” thing, I am confident that God blessed me with an amazing example of a mom I can to look to. Your mom & dad did a phenomenal job raising you, you did a phenomenal job raising me, and I only hope that I can be half the mom to my children that you are to me. I know your mom & dad would be so proud of the woman you are today. You’re amazing.
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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you.

Love always,
Your little girl

Paisley Grace: 8 months

Every month I think to myself, “This is the best age yet.”
Then… the next month comes along and I find myself loving that next age even more than the last.
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At 8 months old she:
– Has FOUR teeth! Two on the bottom and two on the top! Those 4 teeth make her sweet smile that much more adorable. (Unfortunately, she loves to grind her teeth and that just drives her mommy and daddy crazy)
– Says “Mama” and “Baba” – we figured out that she calls Gus “Baba” instead of “Dada.” On April 13th, I had the day off so Paisley and I spent the entire day together. She did not say “Baba” at all throughout the day. As soon as Gus got home that evening, all she said was “Baba” when she saw him!! It’s hilarious.
– Smiles all the time. Seriously though, I mean it. This little girl is almost always happy – even when she had a double ear infection AND a sinus infection. She’s a tough one!
– Is a chunky monkey – she weighs 18 pounds!! She’s in the 69th percentile for weight – (when she was born, she was in the 1st percentile)
– Is starting to get to that age where she doesn’t really want to be held by strangers (especially if she can’t see that her mommy & daddy are close by).
– Weighs 6-9 month clothes (mostly 9 months nowadays) and size 3 diapers! Wow…I feel like yesterday she was wearing premie clothes & diapers.
– Hasn’t quite figured out how to crawl yet, but she gets into the crawling position and rocks back and forth, moves backwards, and spins in a circle. She’s getting close!
– LOVES to swing. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before.  It is her favorite thing to do. She just laughs and laughs. I can’t even tell you how many pictures I have of our sweet girl swinging! We recently moved and we have a huge park across the street from where we live with lots and lots of swings to play in. Let’s just say there will be lots of visits to that park.
– Had a great first Easter holiday! She woke up to her first Easter basket filled with goodies, went to church and played in the nursery with a new friend, and we all had supper with some great friends of ours in Greenville and their family! We had a wonderful time!
– Claps all the time, likes to stick her tongue out, waves “bye-bye” and gives kisses! (Well, they are her version of kisses, anyway. She makes a fish face and makes the lip-smacking noise)
– Hates cuddling. She will not let anyone (including me or her daddy) pick her up and just cuddle her. The closest she will come to cuddling is when I have a day off and I let her sleep in the bed with me after Gus leaves for work. Other than that, not a chance!
– Still eats her baby food like a champ! She also loves to snack on puffs and has started eating some soft, small pieces of regular food. She tried mashed potatoes and beans on Easter Sunday!
– Has finally learned how to roll over without her boots and bar on!! (She started doing this on April 13th!) Now that she figured out how to roll – that’s how she gets from place to place! She loves to roll all around the house.
– Absolutely must be holding her rubber ducky during bath time every night. If she doesn’t have her duck in her hands she freaks out.
– Likes other babies and kids. This is kind of a given since she’s been going to daycare since she was 3 weeks old..but it’s so cute to watch her laugh & smile at other kids when we go to the park and just be so intrigued by whatever they’re doing!
– Is still such a daddy’s girl. When Gus comes home from work he gets the biggest smiles and laughs out of Miss Paisley!
– Is a very messy eater (hence the sweet potatoes on her face in her 8 month pictures!)
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Happy 8 months of life, little one!

Paisley Grace: 7 months

Our little girl has so much personality! I cannot believe she is already 7 months old.
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At 7 months old she:
– Has THREE teeth! Two on the bottom and one on the top! (The top one came through on March 15th!)
– Is a pro at sitting up by herself! Her pediatrician said at her 6 month appointment that she was very advanced as far as sitting up on her own goes.
– Weighs 16 lb 15 oz! She’s hit a growth spurt and is now wearing 6-9 months clothes and size 3 diapers!
– Loves eating all fruits and vegetables (except for peas – we’re working on it)
– Has been sleeping through the night consistently! FINALLY!!
– Doesn’t roll over anymore. She refuses to. Weird, right?
– Smiles constantly. When she smiles her little bottom teeth show and it’s so cute.
– Cracks up laughing after someone sneezes! Maybe she will learn to say “God bless you” one day, but for now – it’s hysterical.
– Had her first ear infection. Ugh it was so sad. But the antibiotics cleared it right up!
– Loves books. She can just lay in her crib or sit on the floor and play with a book and be completely content.
– Said her first word on March 16th: MAMA!! Paisley always says “Mama” and “Baba” (no “Dada” yet – sorry, Gus!)
– Loves to play outside – especially loves to swing!
– Has some funky hair. I know. Most of it fell out and now she’s left with what we refer to as her “toupee” or punk comb-over look. She pulls it off! 😉
– Is working on learning to crawl. I think we’re starting to get close. She will push herself backwards and spin in a circle but hasn’t quite figured out that she can move forward.
– Doesn’t like to take naps. Not even a little bit. At daycare, they usually tell me she had a great day and then follow it up with…”but she didn’t sleep well.”
– Is a total daddy’s girl. She lights up as soon as he comes home from work.
– Only has to wear her boots and bar at night!! This has been a huge praise and a very happy adjustment for our family!! (She will have to wear them at night until she’s 4 years old – but she doesn’t seem to mind a bit!)
– Loves to play with her feet!
– Is going to be home during the day spending time with mommy A LOT more often now! She will only have to go to daycare about 2-3 days a week when I go to practicum. (Which definitely is better than our normal 5 days a week!!)
– Tries to put everything in her mouth! Time to baby-proof the floor for sure!
– Is so silly. Our monthly photoshoots have become quite the task. She is very aware of everything going onaround her and is very easily distracted! (See below)
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Happy 7 months of life,”little one”

Paisley Grace: 6 months

Happy half birthday to our sweet baby girl. Half a year. 6 months. I still remember when Paisley Grace was 6 hours old, 6 days old, 6 weeks old. Now she’s 6 months old and I cannot even wrap my mind around it. (I shared some of my thoughts about that here)

These past 6 months have been the best.IMG_0547At 6 months old she…
– Has TWO teeth. They are both on the bottom and they are just cute as can be.
– Laughs constantly. It seems like she’s always laughing or smiling (well…except when she’s overtired). She especially likes to laugh when we are at any kind of store. Her little giggles just fills the room and brings a smile the face of everyone who hears it. She also laughs at mommy & daddy all the time.
– Does this really cute thing where she puts the back of both of her hands over her eyes when she gets really tired. She’s a drama queen, already.
– Has started trying to copy us when we make funny noises and faces.
– Is a really cute sleeper. BUT she doesn’t sleep very well during the day. She’s getting better at sleeping through the night, but during the day she wants to be awake and interacting with everyone for the most part.
– Started sitting up on her own on Saturday, February 7th (2 days before she turned 6 months old)! She looks like such a big girl when she sits up and reaches for her toys!
-Is a little cuddle bug and really really loves when she gets to snuggle up in mommy and daddy’s bed.
– Has her ears pierced! She got them pierced on January 17th while her Aunt Kassidy was visiting us in South Carolina. She handled it like such a champ.
– Loves animals. Stuffed animals, real animals, pictures of animals, everything. She just LOVES them! She smiles and giggles when she sees them. She has a plush frog toy she loves to hold whenever we’re home. She’s also met several dogs who love to give her kisses and she just pets them (AKA pulls their hair) and laughs.
– Is a morning person! She doesn’t wake up in the morning crying. Instead, we usually hear her cooing and babbling in her crib and when we walk in to get her she gives us the biggest smile. Mornings with Paisley are the sweetest!
– Wears 0-3 month clothes and can fit into some 3-6 months (they’re just too long on her still, but I’m sure she’ll be wearing them in no time).
– Has some cute nicknames. Mommy calls her monkey moo moo, Grandma Deb and Pokey call her Paigie, daddy calls her monster and little one. She’s bound to have lots of nicknames as the years go by.
– Has lost a lot of her hair. She was born with a full head of strawberry blonde hair and now the majority of her hair is found only on the top of her head! Still cute as a button but I’m really excited for her hair to eventually grow back.
– Is doing so well eating her baby food. She loves bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, apples, and pears. The only thing she has tried that she didn’t care for were peaches.

Our photoshoot this month was filled with lots of giggles, smiles, silly faces, and big belly laughs. (Even more so than usual – Enjoy!)IMG_0552IMG_0546IMG_0541IMG_0536IMG_0534IMG_0455IMG_0528IMG_0530IMG_0526
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IMG_0505 IMG_0512IMG_0454IMG_0451Happy half birthday, little one. We love you so much!!