Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer days and a tad about self-talk

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(a little disclaimer about the UT shirt.  AC ADORES Patti, a Texan, and every time I'm around them I think about how grateful Susie, BJ's mom, would be for the ways Patti loves on my girls.  Well, Anna Cate shows her gratitude and adoration by loving the longhorns or "hook em horns" for Patti.  I just had to say it, because you know I wouldn't be putting any kid of mine in anything orange, but that is because of the other UT).

It seems lately, I've really accepted and even embraced that a productive day means that I've made the most out of living life with my daughters. Maybe it is because I'll be going back to school in less than a month, which will be quite an adjustment. With so much snow in January and February and maternity leave, I haven't worked a full work week in almost 6 months, and I think Anna Cate has forgotten that I do work.

Tuesday morning, I suggested we eat our breakfast outside to celebrate the fact that the miserable heat had broken.  When I asked AC what she was thinking about, knowing what I was thinking is that she should appreciate this time with me in the mornings since I'd really rather be sleeping. She said, "I wish Daddy didn't have a job." When I asked her if she liked eating and explained the value of a job in 4-year old terms, she said, "well then maybe you could get a job, so that he could stay home with me. He'd probably take me to the movie theatre today!"

I'm trying to make the most out of our time together.  All too often, I regret my choice to teach for purely materialistic and shallow reasons. I want to make more money and enjoy more status than I have as an educator, but a pleasant day with my girls will remind me that the summers I get with them is part of the package, and so I tell myself and believe that is more valuable than status or finances!

So, we walk to our pool to swim, picnic in the back yard, pluck tomatoes from the garden, swim with friends and soak up summer times together, even though she'd rather be with Daddy.IMG_2219.jpg
It is not fancy, but something about taking the food outside and watching my little girl help me pack, lay the blankets out and light the OFF candles was simply sweet.IMG_2228.jpg
I often say as if to throw my hands up, "second children get schlepped around!"  But I think Molly looks happy just to be with Anna Cate...or that is what I tell myself.
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The last two days, we had play dates at friends' pools.  By the way, growing up this would have been my DREAM house....one with a back yard pool.  Now, I'm thankful that the community pool is a walk away and that my friends have them.

Thursday we went to Laurie's to play with Evan and Jackson and met up with Alex and Isabel, and mom Megan.  We have done play dates since our oldest children were babies. I'm the last one to have the second child, so Molly is the only baby left.

At Laurie's house, Molly tried the water, and I think she likes it!
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But she was just as happy to get some play time with Isabel....
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Molly is spending a lot of time this summer in a shady spot so Anna Cate can swim, and I'm so thankful she seems so sweet about it, and I tell myself she is happy and will be a "go with the flow" kid. IMG_2235.jpg

On Friday, Anna Cate dove and swam for her swim lesson and then we headed to Amy's house for a swim with the "big kids."  Amy and I teach together and she is exactly the type coworker and friend this scattered-brain, "fly by the seat of my pants" teacher/mommy appreciates. She was my long term sub when Anna Cate was born, and I loved her from the start.  I have a lot of these organized caretakers in my life, because goodness know this girl needs some direction with all the "details" that overwhelm me of life...
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Her sons Chandler and Cullen are both young gentlemen (the type boys a good Texas girl raises), and Anna Cate loved swimming with Cullen.IMG_2242.jpg
What Anna Cate remembers about Amy is that she gave her the first popsicle when she was 2.  See what I mean...a caretaker!!



So that is a bit about us enjoying summer. 

Yvette, this is for you:  I could write about how I still go CRAZY when the house is messy and the little bit of self-hate I do when my house isn't as big or clean or organized as Laurie's and Amy's, or how annoyed I am when Anna Cate wakes up before I'm ready to get up and so I sleep as she watches tv. Or how even though I told BJ Molly couldn't be left on the bed, I did it myself..... and she fell off.  OR, the complete stranger who stopped me in the grocery store to tell me when I wasn't looking my daughter "was squeezing the baby's feet as hard as she could," trying to make her scream.

This blog and this life is about focusing on the good stuff, trying to do the best I can for my family, and for msyelf. How can I worry too much about the floors of my house or focus on my failures to be a perfect Mom, when I have these precious girls, who deserve me to keep trying!?  And they need to see a Mommy who wants to believe the best in herself as well as in the world, so I focus on the fun, sweet times, what we have as opposed to what we don't, like Mommy at home, when you really just want Daddy around.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer memories, grandparents

Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Watching Anna Cate create her childhood memories in the summer with my dear parents is nothing short of magical!   This is the 5th summer she has spent extended time with Nana and Daddy Doug, and they go "all out" to make the trip an affair to remember.  Each year I reflect on previous summers the trip was made:

The summer of 2006, we took our baby for the first time away and took everything but the kitchen sink in July. I returned in August with my friends, Melanie and Chelsea Edwards, whose family live in Franklin. AC and I rode in the back seat of their car and had a blast to get an extra week with Nana and Daddy Doug. 
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The summer of 2007, Anna Cate stayed with them for a total of 17 days as I attended a Southern Living @ Home convention, came back to Fredericksburg, Va to move houses, and then went with BJ to Mexico, alone. Nana then flew her back home and they saw our house together for the first time!
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The summer of 2008, Anna Cate and I spent a few days there and she stayed alone while I attended another Southern Living convention in Nashville. 

The summer of 2009, Anna Cate and I flew down for 3 weeks so I could rest since pregnancy was the bus that hit me hard.  Then, she fished, went to baseball games, caught lightening bugs, swam, cooked with Nana, watered flowers, and basked in that glory of grandparently love. We have a lot of memories from last summer and I have several pictures (when I got off the couch to actually take some).
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Here is Anna Cate with Betty on the celebration of her 60th birthday. Betty died this past April, so we missed the love, fun and laughter Betty provided us.  She adored Anna Cate, played with her and lavished her with kisses and fun.  It was sad to not share a cocktail, a laugh or a delicious product from Betty's kitchen as we missed her spirit immensely. I know Anna Cate will remember her fondly, as will I.
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SUMMER 2010.....


This year I was a little more of a "presence" on the jaunt but oftentimes, I felt like a bystander as my children and parents were making memories together. 


To say Daddy Doug and Anna Cate are buddies is an understatement. Because Mom and I are night-owls, he put her to bed every night with singing made up songs, reading stories and "cuddle time" as they drifted to dreamland. When I would go get her to get in bed, she would sleepily say, "thank you Daddy Doug...I love you."
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On one Saturday night, I went with the 2 of them to the "Drive In" to see Toy Story 3. Anna Cate was fascinated by the sound coming from the car and the movie on the screen.  We at junk food  and wondered where the best seat would be; I remembered coming there as a child and Daddy told us of it being the "it" place when he was a teenager.


 Once during the film, she thought it best to sit in the car with the windows down, and she said, "Hey Daddy Doug, do you want to hold hands?"  or "I love you guys"...moments to remember.
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Nana and Anna Cate are best of friends, as Anna Cate is allowed to play with Nana's 345 purses, 234 shoes and 118 set of jewels. Bedtimes are quite flexible, getting dressed is optional, and the goal of each day is to make Anna Cate feel happy. Not exactly a recipe for successful child-rearing, but a great foundation for a grandmother-grandaughter bond.


Molly was calmed on the front porch swing, and Anna Cate was entertained by entertaining us.
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One day, Anna Cate and I walked to the library to read books, and she thought my style was quite boring and took over.
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We enjoyed celebrating the wedding of Rachel McGinley (the Bateses best friends) in the McGinley back yard. Notice how Anna Cate's hair always looks better when Nana fixes it, and the home-made bow to match thanks to Molly Bates.
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For the second year, Rita, Daddy's long time secretary, hosted us to let Anna Cate and her grand-daugther Abby ride horses together and feed catfish in a pond.  Afterwards, we enjoyed sweets and cold iced tea making a perfect summer's evening for us, and a long-lasting memory for Anna Cate.




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From bathtime to bedtime, Anna Cate experienced bliss, love, laughter and all the elements of treasured summer memories. 
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Sweet Molly enjoyed life, as well. When big sister was happily entertained, Molly got more attention, cooing and holding.

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On one of the last evenings, we went to Swan Creek, a beautiful stream that winds its way through breathtaking beautiful landscapes of my home county.  Her waters have provided much joy for my family, particularly Douglas and Daddy who fish there, so it was special that Kitty happened to be there for the evening, too. (her parents even became engaged somewhere on the creek banks)


IMG_2191.jpg picture by batesking04Daddy Doug stood in the water and let the current sweep Anna Cate to him; she, of course, thought this adventure was quite fun.
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The cold water refreshed and christened Molly and Kitty.
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 IMG_2193.jpg   IMG_2196.jpg picture by batesking04This look from Kitty says,"thank you, Nana. I was so hot!"


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Anna Cate informed us that she had to go potty; when we told her she needed to get back in the creek, she said, "You're kidding!!!!" Welcome to the country, kiddo!


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Time simultaneously flew by and stood still as I witnessed precious moments where my parents etch their love in my children's soul and memories nestle into our minds. 
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While time with grandparents and summer both make up only a portion of our days here on this earth, it seems that our memories of them take up a lot of space in the minds and hearts of children.  I enjoyed watching such precious images for posterity. I am thankful for both generations whose lives created these moments for our memory banks.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Uncle Doug, Aunt Becki and Kitty

We loved meeting Kitty and seeing Uncle Doug and Aunt Becki on our trip to Centerville.
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We celebrated with family her infant baptism/christening:
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Both Douglas and I were christened at this alter, and BJ and I were married in this church.  Douglas teaches a Sunday School class, is the lay leader here and sits the same pew I sat on growing up.  Knowing that makes me think and hope that I will share a special bond with their daughter, Kitty as her life and mine will have some similarities.


I share a bond with my Aunt Anne, and maybe this reason is part of it.  Now we share that our children are being raised in far flung places while our brother's children are going to be in Centerville.  I can only hope Kitty will appreciate the visiting with my girls the way I did visiting with my cousins, Catherine and Jim.


Speaking of Uncle Doug...... I'm so touched that he stopped by several times in the middle of the work day to visit with Anna Cate or hold Molly. He and Daddy are practicing law together and Douglas works a LOT, so I really appreciate the time he took to visit with Anna Cate. Here is a little clip of the way he plays with her. On our last day in Centerville, he dropped by Mom and Dad's and took Anna Cate home for a while.


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Anyone who knows me well know just how important he is to me, and in many ways he is my best friend.  Douglas is a great brother and a fantastic uncle. Selfishly, one of the things I so love about him is that he seems to always have my best interest at heart, so watching a special relationship develop between him and Anna Cate and Molly gives me unspeakable comfort.  I can only hope that one day Uncle Doug and Aunt Becki will be one of the "go to" people for my children as they are for me.  I know there will come a time when BJ and my opinions or advice doesn't matter much, but maybe Anna Cate or Molly can look to their "cool" aunt and uncle for wisdom.
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And we couldn't leave their dog, Merc, out. As you can see Molly enjoyed the introduction:IMG_2208.jpg






Her JUST HUGGED ME!!!

This morning as I'm trying to get myself geared up for the day in the bathroom, I let Anna Cate play with Molly on the bed.  Week by week, thankfully, I'm noticing a gentler side coming out.  Today Anna Cate said, "Mommy....I just reached down to Molly and HER JUST HUGGED ME!!!" Then she said, "you HAVE TO PUT THIS ON YOUR BLOG!" I don't have a picture, but I hope that there are many more hugs in these girls' futures.

Molly's 4 month milestones

I really stink at baby books. I don't even have one for Molly yet, and my dear friend Norah gave me one for Anna Cate about 8 months into her life.  I've decided I'm just not a detail person, and what a child weighs, when she rolls over, or starts food just isn't significant to me.  I know I should journal about the details that do matter to me, and that is one of the reasons I invest my time in this blog.  I just hope for some strange reason, Blogger doesn't die and all this be lost (no I'm not printing, but I will buy a book with these printed inside at the end of the year).IMG_2128.jpg picture by batesking04
So, when the pediatrician's nurse writes down the statistics for Molly, I don't know really what to do with it.  She is in the 50% percentile for both height and weight, and although the appointment is 20 days past her exact 4 month birthday I'm very proud that she is average weight since she got down so very low (5 pounds 11 oz). She now weighs 13 pounds, 7 ounces and is 24 inches long. (even after I wrote that I wonder, "who really cares about that"?)


  I love seeing her chunky legs and knowing that my body helped produce that FOR her.  Too bad I don't think the same things when I see chunk on myself! Oh, and her head circumference is in the 95% percentile...we can thank their Daddy for that!


Back to the details that do matter to me, my dear Molly.  You are rolling over and holding your head up, but what I love is that your head is turning to see what your sister is doing.
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  When you nurse, you can't decide whether to suck and breathe or to look up and give me this open-mouth smile that completely melts my heart, or you'll nurse and then look for a family member to interact with you. 


  When we were home in Centerville, you were constantly watching to see what Nana was doing, and grinned in gratitude for the attention.


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Molly's smiling and giggling gives me the window to her little soul! We've just returned from our annual summer visit to Centerville, and I reflected upon how horrible I felt last year as Molly's cells were rapidly dividing, and my body was preparing to house a baby.  It completely knocked me out, and I'll be honest, I wondered if we'd made a mistake in having a second child. I spent the majority of my 3 weeks at home asleep in bed, or on a couch in the sun room, wondering what I did to my precious little Anna Cate and myself!?!


This year, I would  behold that group of cells on that couch and thank God and the universe we inhabit together for allowing me the privilege of being her Mother. 
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While grabbing her feet was last month's entertainment she still enjoys....


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A few days ago, Molly reached for something for the first time (or for the first I noticed).
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At four months, she is hitting her milestones, but more importantly she is reaching out and grabbing our hearts. I love watching Anna Cate and BJ fall in love with her more each day, and reveling myself in this little wonder whose presence completes our family.  I hate to say I'm not too inspired to buy the baby book or write this down, but being written on my heart in my life story now are the ways we are loving this baby.

 I won't remember the age she rolled over or the date of the first smile, but I will remember that when she rolled over to look at something or when I caught a smile, or giggled with Anna Cate as we got Molly to laugh, I drank it up.  Whatever milestone I'm supposed to be noticing pales in comparison to the sheer joy of Molly Mae and the ways her precious self is unfolding before our eyes and making a home in our hearts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nana, pink,& parties,

When Anna Cate was 4 months old and we visited Centerville, Nana threw a lovely party so people could meet her.




Four years later, that baby became a big sister and wanted to help her Nana show off her baby sister and her baby cousin, giving Nana an excuse to throw another  party.  We have two new babies to celebrate, our Molly and my brother and sister-in-law's new daughter, Kathleen Waitt Elizabeth Bates, "Kitty."
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And so another party is thrown...NANA style, which means a lot of pink, too much food, and sweet times.
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Abby made two trifles (one with an M for Molly, and one with a K for Kathleen, Kitty)


Good friends came to chat and hold babies. Shelda (below) has been my friend since I was just a tad older than Anna Cate, and her daughter was the flower girl in BJ and my wedding.
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I get to introduce the girls to the most generous man I know, Walter Nunnelly. His grand-father and my great-grandmother were brother and sister, so clearly we are separated by generations as well as distant relations, but the way he extends himself to my family model the value of family and home so dearly.  My Granny grew up playing on the farm her grandfather Walter Nunnelly owned that this Walter now owns with his dear brother, Bill, who also came to Nana's party.  My Granny loved her Nunnelly family so it is very, very special for me to introduce my girls to these Nunnellys.  
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Anna Cate got to play with new friends, and their gadgets.IMG_2072.jpg picture by batesking04
IMG_2073.jpg picture by batesking04Ella's mommy Beth was a friend of mine since around this age, too.
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I knew he'd be a great at it -- he is a FANTASTIC uncle. Anna Cate adores him, even though he scares her silly with tales of dragons living on Duck River.
This is my family in Centerville, Anna Cate and Molly Mae, this is your family. I know these are precious memories we are building, and you probably won't remember the perfectly pink lemonade or the fancy food or even the friends' names, but you will remember how much you are loved, and this is the way Nana shows you.  Check out how being around family makes Anna Cate think the camera is still just on her: the magic of grandparents.
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Kitty, it is special to share this memory of celebrating you together with Molly.  Douglas and Becki, I know we will love sharing this journey and enjoy watching these relationships among our family bud.

Molly Mae, that is just not true whatever they say about not doing as much for second children......
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  Well, actually now that I think on that, maybe that expression doesn't apply to grandchildren!