Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Light Bokeh

I’m kind of in love with bokeh. It’s probably one of my favorite things ever. So tonight I was messing around with the camera and gave my hand at taking pictures of our Christmas tree to get some gorgeous gorgeous bokeh.

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I LOVE the big fat bokeh on the left…but they’re all pretty!

And I caught this shot of the little mister checking out the lights himself.

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Want to try your own? Here’s a great tutorial from Click it Up a Notch on how to capture your own Christmas light bokeh!

Friday Night

 
There are moments in motherhood that no amount of discussion or birthing class or books can prepare you for. There are moments that just simply steal your breath, hit you in the stomach, put a lump in your throat, or bring you to tears as you watch your sweet baby growing up right before your eyes. There are of course those moments of stress, extreme exhaustion, and frustration. But then there are moments of joy in the most unexpected of places.
 
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Its Friday night, and instead of having grand Friday night plans or relaxing while you play. I am sitting in the kitchen floor. You have a multitude of books, cars, and blocks that you could be playing with while I caught up on my missed Grey’s Anatomy episode. But instead…you choose the pantry. You choose to destroy my once organized pantry, pulling out boxes, bags, and baby food. And I’m okay with that. So here I sit. On the cold kitchen floor, watching you play. It is exactly where I want to be. Because one day, you won’t want to play at home on a Friday night, you’ll be out with your friends, or girlfriend. Tonight you are content with just your mama.
 
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I want to soak in every ounce of this moment. Every ounce of your baby-ness. Your striped Christmas pajamas, the way your small hands hold onto things, or the way your sweet hair is messy  right now. The love I have for you makes my heart ache in a way I didn’t know was possible.
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This is one of those moments. My breath is gone, my stomach feels like its been hit, my throat has a lump, and my eyes on the verge of tears.
Being your mommy is the absolute best thing ever.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Today I am Thankful

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For my husband, and the four years of sweet marriage. That we have made it through the happiest and most difficult moments, and always come out stronger. That he loves me, even though I am stubborn and ridiculous sometimes. And that he is my absolute best friend.

For my son, and the gift of motherhood. The past year has been the most incredible year of my life, and I am so thankful for that.

For my job, and the opportunity I have to be a part of people’s lives during such important moments.

For smart doctors, and fellow nurses who work together as a team.

For chemotherapy, procedures, and modern medicine.

For my own health and my families health.

For new opportunity.

That God is always faithful, and always provides.

For my parents, and all that they have taught me about life love and happiness.

For my sister, that she gets me like no one else in this world, and for that deep rooted bond that no one can really understand but us.

For Thanksgiving, and that it reminds us what is truly important in life.

For two paychecks in this house in a struggling economy.

For photography, and the gift it has truly given me to learn, and capture my sons precious memories.

For coming home each night to my little house, my little family, and a whole lotta love.

For technology that keeps us close despite miles between us.

For my grandparents, and that I am so lucky to still have them in my life.

For cozy blankets, hot apple cider, turkey, pumpkin pie, and sweet potatoes.

For the smells in the house on Thanksgiving.

For North Carolina, and that I can call this great place my home.

For the beach, a place where my soul breathes easier.

For a messy house. Its just “lived in” and means memories are being made instead of cleaning.

For holiday movies and that they will never ever get old.

For coffee. I’m not sure that needs elaboration.

For my faith, and that it is ever growing, and that God is so patient with me as I walk with Him. And that all these blessings are from Him.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

thankful: being a registered nurse

For the past four years, I have had the opportunity to work as a registered nurse on an oncology unit at an amazing hospital. The majority of my patients have leukemia, although I see all types of cancer. The past four years have taught me more than I ever could have imagined about life, health, and who I am as a person. However, when Landon was born, I knew I couldn’t continue where I was for long. Life as a working mom is tough, and its so hard to give your all at a job that is so demanding, and then come home and feel 100% for your baby. My current job requires 12 hour shifts, a 45 minute commute both ways, holidays, and weekends. It was very apparent to me that I needed a change. I love oncology. I love my patients, and I love that I get to be there with them in their most difficult moments. That being said, it is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining to be in that environment on a daily basis. At 25 years old, I have been in the midst of situations that I would never dream of. I have dealt with death more than I care to. You know all those crazy tumors you see on Grey’s Anatomy? I have seen them in real life. Those situations exist in real life. But with each difficult moment, I have grown, and changed, and learned.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, is my last day at my current position. Monday morning bright and early, I will start a new job at the cancer center ten minutes from my home. I will get to drop off and pick up Landon each day instead of leaving while he is still asleep and coming home only to put him to bed. I will have half days on Friday, every weekend, and every single holiday at home with my family. And for that I am so incredibly thankful. I will get to see patients that do well with their diagnosis and go home at the end of the day, instead of to the palliative care unit. I will get to see patients who fight the disease, and live full lives. I look forward to the change, and I look forward to the break it will give me. If I have to be away from Landon for 40 hours a week, it needs to be in an environment that will allow me to come home at the end of the day and be ever present in my sons life, not exhausted.

While I am thankful for the new opportunity, I am so thankful for the job I am leaving. It is my first “adult” job. And in so many ways it is where I became an adult and grew up. It is where I learned everything I know about oncology and chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. It is where I bonded with patients and held their hands, and that is something that I truly believe is a privilege. God has blessed me so greatly in allowing me to work on 9 Reynolds.  There are patients that I will never forget.

So this Thanksgiving, even though I will be working, I am so thankful and so blessed for the past four years and all they have brought.

it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I have been pinning Christmas inspired photography since mid July, preparing for those perfect Christmas pictures that I would hope to take of Landon. You may have seen the slew of photos with your child and Christmas lights filling the Pinterest boards and pinned a few yourself. I pinned this picture a while back, and decided to give it a try with my little guy.

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I must say, this is probably one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever take of him, and apparently others agree to as I received almost 80 “likes” on Facebook when I posted it.

Here is a great tutorial from Click it up a Notch about taking photos of your kids with Christmas lights.

Linking up with ILYMTC

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Landon / Eleven Months

Here we go, the countdown to your first birthday! I really cannot believe we are here already. I find myself just hanging on to every ounce of you and cherishing you during this phase, because you are growing up way too quickly. This past month has been so fun with you.

At eleven months…

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I have no idea what you weigh or how long you are, but we will find out at your twelve month doctors appointment in a few weeks. You are wearing 9-12 month clothes across the board, and size three diapers.

You are eating SO so well now. I kind of laugh at myself for being concerned about you and your self feeding, because what a difference just a months time has made. Just a few weeks ago you wouldn’t pick up anything but cheerios and puffs because they were dry. Anything slimy or squishy you turned your nose up at. Now, there really is nothing that you won’t pick up. You really love bananas, mandarin oranges, and green beans. We’ve also let you try everything we eat, and you like chicken, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and rice. Each week we add more finger foods to your diet, and you do really have eaten everything we offer. You are eating more solid food, and less formula than you were last month, only taking 4-5 ounces at each meal. I really look forward to making the switch to whole milk and getting rid of this formula thing all together. I am so, so proud of you!

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We celebrated your first Halloween! I said in a previous post that I really was not a big Halloween person when I was growing up…I really didn’t care to celebrate it. But having a child really heightens the excitement around every holiday, even those we used to not care about. I was so excited about your first Halloween, unfortunately you came down with your first cold and and really weren’t feeling it. We put you in your costume (a monkey!) and took you to see Mrs. Liz (your sitter) and her family, Erin and Joe that live across the street, and then we came home. Aunt Alison, Uncle Justin, Macy, and Sam stopped by while they were trick or treating to see you also. After that, you decided you had had enough of this “monkey business” and so we ended up snuggling and watching Hocus Pocus while daddy gave out candy to the trick or treaters. I really get excited thinking about the next few Halloweens when you understand more and eventually when we can take you trick or treating! Love you little monkey!

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As I said, you came down with your first cold. Which completely broke my heart. It really wasn’t that bad, just a runny nose and congestion, but pair that with teething and you were one unhappy baby. Lots of Tylenol and Benadryl, and lots and lots of snuggles (which I didn’t mind). For several nights you woke up in the middle of the night crying and we would bring you in with us to snuggle and get you back to sleep before putting you back in your crib. As sleepy as we were the next day, it is so worth it. I know those snuggles are numbered, and I truly love any moment that I get to hold you and love you. I know one day you will be mister independent and want nothing to do with it! Thankfully you started feeling better after about a week.

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You went to your first ECU Football game with us! This is something your daddy has looked forward to since before I can remember. He grew up going to ECU games with Boppa (your grandfather), and always knew he would share the same experience with his children. You really did so well at the game. Somehow, you slept the first half of the game, and then woke up and took it all in for the second half. You learned to clap at the game also, by watching everyone around you clapping. We were so proud of you for how you did for the trip and the game. You are such a trooper! It was so fun to take you back to the place that I met your daddy and where we shared so many great memories (and ECU won!).

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This month you learned to clap, give high fives, and wave on command. You are cruising on everything, and standing up unassisted for longer periods of time. I have no doubt that you will be taking those first steps very soon. You are a baby on the move and constantly crawling and climbing and exploring. You love playing in the Tupperware cabinet, and you also love taking laundry out of laundry baskets. I have to fold clothes while you are asleep because you really like to unfold everything and pull it all out of the basket. You love cars, trucks, and anything with wheels. You love books, and swinging on the swing set in the neighborhood.

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So here we are, you are eleven months and we are busily planning your first birthday party and getting ready for  the holidays. I am looking so forward to all the celebrations and family time, and remembering where we were a year ago awaiting your arrival into this world (even if you were 8 days late….I really will never let you forget that). We  love you sweet monkey! Happy Eleven Months!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crock Pot Apple Butter

One of my absolute favorite things in the world is apple butter. Usually we make a trip to the NC mountains in the fall to take in the fall leaves, breathe some mountain air, and buy some mountain apples and apple butter. This year however, we weren’t able to make the trip. With our weekends slammed full, I was missing my little mason jar full of apple butter goodness. So I was super excited to find a recipe for crock pot apple butter on Pinterest. After google-ing and researching several different recipes, I came up with my own. It was incredibly easy, and SO delicious.

I used a variety of McIntosh, Granny Smith, and Honey Crisp apples, probably about 12 total. Peeled, cored, and diced the apples. In the beginning I was literally, peeling, coring, and dicing…and then by then end I got lazy and it turned into more of just coring and slicing (As you can see in the two bottom pictures).  In hindsight I would have kept peeling and dicing, but it really works either way.

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I put all the apples into the crock pot, and then added brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I let them cook in the crock pot on high for four hours. A lot of the recipes online said to cook them overnight, but I had to be up at 5am the next morning for work and wasn’t about to wake up earlier for these apples, so four hours it was. You could cook them all day if you wanted to.

When they were nice and and soft, I took them out of the crock pot and put them in a huge mixing bowl, where I used my immersion blender to puree them into a very smooth consistency. You can add more sugar or spices to taste once it is finished. It made a lot more than I thought it would, and so it wouldn’t go bad I decided to can it. I had four pint sized mason jars that I used to can the apple butter. I took left over fabric and some twine, and plan on giving them to our parents on Thanksgiving.

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Ingredients:

Approx 12 apples, any variety.

1/4 c brown sugar

cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

 

Combine in crock pot, cook on high for 4-6 hours, blend until smooth, and enjoy!

an ecu family

I know I post a lot about us going to ECU games, and traveling to Greenville. And I occasionally go into how big of fans we are and how we met there, but East Carolina really holds a special place in our hearts. You see, not only did I meet my husband there. But my parents met there, John’s parents met there, my sister and her husband met there, and our friends and their husbands met there. I’m not kidding. John lived above my sister’s room in their freshman dorm. I went to visit her one weekend, and met this college guy. Said college guy contacted me when I got home and we quickly became friends. It wasn’t until 3 years later when I went to college that we started hanging out more, and eventually dating, and long story short…here we are, married with a baby. While in school there we were both members of the Student Pirate Club Executive Board, and helped coordinate student/athlete/coach meet and greets, dinners, and other functions. I babysat the coach’s kids for extra money, and John was always around to lend them a helping hand when things got crazy during football season. To say we were connected to the university is an understatement. I consider it home in so many ways, and always will.
 
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Even before we thought about having children, we would talk about how fun it would be to take our kids one day and walk them on campus showing them where mommy and daddy lived, the “wall” in the center of campus that we would meet at in between classes, the stadium, and the baseball field which all held great memories. Once we had Landon, John really couldn’t wait to share his love of Pirate football with our baby boy and counted down the days to when we could take him to Greenville to cheer on the Pirates with us.
 
That said day was just a couple weeks ago. ECU was playing Houston, and the stars aligned for us to bring Landon with us. Landon loved it, he played while we enjoyed breakfast at our tailgating spot. When we went into the game he was sleepy, and ended up snoozing the whole first half of the game (what a party pooper!), and sat on our laps during the second half watching all the chaos around him. We were so proud of him, and absolutely loved having him there to share the experience with us. I have no doubt there will be many more games in his future.
 
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Go Pirates!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

the night I met Emily Giffin

Yep, you read that right.

I’ve been a fan of Emily Giffin’s books for quite some time. After reading her first book Something Borrowed and watching the movie which starred Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin, I was hooked. They’re great beach reads, and instead of having to drag my husband out to see a chick flick movie, I can read her books and get my dose of girly-ness.  Last week while I was browsing Facebook on my phone and saw her post a status saying she was headed to little Lexington, North Carolina. Say what? Emily Giffin in my hometown? How did I not know this was happening?

 

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After hunting down some more information, I found out she would be speaking at the civic center downtown to benefit our local library. I got in touch with my sister in law, who also reads her books, and we planned to go that night. Giffin has ties to this area being that she went to Wake Forest University, just up the road in Winston Salem. However, I also learned that Lexington is where her best friend lives.

Lexington is teeny, and I was so surprised she agreed to come speak here. Her book signings are typically in much larger cities like New York and Los Angeles, but here she was. For about an hour she spoke about her journey to become a successful writer, she spoke about her newest book Where We Belong, and then answered questions from the audience about movie production, what it was like working with Kate Hudson, and future plans for books. I found her charming, down to earth, and really like you were just listening to your friend talk about her job. She graciously signed books and took pictures with all of us afterwards. I was so excited to purchase Where We Belong, and to have her sign it. And now, I can’t wait to start reading it!

 

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Halloween 2012

As I mentioned before, I really was never big on Halloween growing up. However, since having Landon, every holiday is bigger and more important than ever. Including the seemingly pointless ones, like Halloween. I'm sure any mom can relate that you want to create memories, and moments...and dressing your 10 month old up like a monkey is one of them. I'm sure he will love me when he looks back on these pictures and that his mother made him wear a ridiculous monkey costume with a hysterical tail and ears. I even contemplated making our dog a banana costume so they could be a duo. I didn't make it that far, I'm sure the dog appreciates it.

Halloween week Landon came down with his first cold. And while I loved the extra snuggles and time spent loving on my sweet boy, I hated that he really wasn't interested in wearing his costume or taking pictures. I attempted to take pictures on the day of Halloween but they didn't turn out well, so this past weekend we tried it again and were able to get some good ones. Landon is going through this super serious phase where he absolutely will not smile in pictures. He used to laugh and smile and play when I was taking pictures, adn now he's all "are we really doing this?" on me. He looks thrilled, as you can see.


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Happy Halloween!

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