Friday, November 30, 2012

This is love ...

I'm going way into sappy, lovey-dovey territory today so if it makes you want to barf, get a trash can handy ...

Lately, I've seen so much husband-bashing going on on Facebook, blogs, etc that I think there needs to be a little balance out there, and that I should brag on Casey for a little while. Honestly, also I've just been feeling so incredibly blessed to have Casey as my life partner and my husband.
Most people who know us know that we met freshman year in college at NCSU. But, I think a lot of people don't know that Casey and I? We HATED hated each other for a long, long time. Sure, we dated initially and things were all young love and beer pong:

But that's just it, we were young. Very young. 18 young. And we were still discovering who we were as individuals and we fought and bickered like two old ladies. Oh, and Casey was an arrogant ass and I was a wild-child. So we broke up. And got back together. And broke up. A lot. But we somehow always seemed to migrate back together in between other relationships. Always, always in the back of my mind, I knew- he was the one for me, and that when we were both ready for the intensity that came with "us", we would happen.

I remember telling my mom shortly after meeting Casey that I thought I had found my husband, even if we couldn't get our crap together enough to date exclusively at the time. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would be an amazing husband, provider and an incredible father. I think I even told her that I could a future of matching Holiday outfits and plaid (scary how I can see the future sometimes).

And it turns out, I was right. You guys have no idea how amazing my husband is. It's like he was born to be a husband and a father. He has supported me unconditionally in anything I've ever wanted to do. When I wanted to stay home, after Beatrice Kate was born, the first thing he said was, "Okay. We'll find a way". When I wanted to become a doula, he never scoffed at the idea or said it was silly. He's always treated my career with as much respect as he does anyone else's, including his own.
Plus, he's freaking handsome.
He brings flowers home for no reason, cleans the kitchen each night so I "didn't have to", and each morning, when he pours his coffee, he preps my coffee mug with just the right amounts of half and half and sugar, so all I have to do is add coffee. It's incredible how considerate and kind he is.

When Beatrice Kate was born, he was so excited to become a father, despite the chaotic entrance into the Fatherhood Club. He insisted on wearing his best shirt the first time he met Bea in the NICU and afterwards, went out and bought coordinating pocket squares.That excitement hasn't waned in the slightest since her birthday. There's never a day that Casey comes home from work and doesn't immediately go full-force into being a Daddy to Bea. He always makes her (and me!) feel like the center of his world, regardless of what his day was really like.

He plays dollhouse, complete with voices and sound effects:

And musical instruments:
And dress up:

And plays chase:
And is just "present" with her in any moment she could need him:
I hope someday Beatrice Kate remembers how focused Casey is and was on his family, when she's making a decision about her own partner in life:

Anyway, when I see women online publicly bashing their spouses, it doesn't just make me angry. It makes me really sad for them. Because, when a good marriage is good, it's really, really good. Don't be mistaken and assume that I'm saying our marriage is perfect, because it's not. But really, any fights or arguments we have are personality frictions more than anything. I guess, we may have gotten older (and a little chubbier) but we're still those silly 18 year olds deep down inside. Only now, I have the security to know that regardless of what we say in the heat of an argument, Bea and I are pretty lucky girls to have this guy in our lives:


Thursday, November 29, 2012

O Tannenbaum ...

So, after the excursion last week to retrieve our tree, we finished decorating the trees last night and the results? Pretty beautiful, if I do say so myself:

I love having our Christmas tree up. Sure, it crowds our living room and makes it feel like a bachelor pad because of the resulting weird furniture arrangement. But reading or talking to Casey each night with just the tree lights on is so... soul-filling:

Because we're saving our most special ornaments for this year's Advent Calendar, the tree is looking a little sparse. But that doesn't mean it's empty- we still had quite a few favorites to display that didn't make the Advent cut. For example, we have accumulated a nice cache of Morvian Beeswax candles in our years together:

And of course, our strange collection of Tiny Santas:

They were given to us as a wedding gift (seriously) and have since become a funny addition to our tree because they're so, so tacky but now, they've engrained themselves in our family's heart.

Moving on. Bea somehow was given 4 (Four!) Baby's first Christmas ornaments, and we're only using 3/4 of them for the Advent Calendar, so that left this guy to go up:

You guys know how I love to display last year's Christmas cards in my tree. I'm weird like that:

There are others, but these are the highlights. The creme de la creme are in here:

Where they'll stay until Dec. 1, when we'll start with our one ornament/one story/one activitiy a day regimen. I also managed to get up a few inside decorations, not many, but a few. Like our one of our Nativity Scenes:

And our indoors Moravian star (What, we're serious about Advent in the Moravian Church you guys) and Casey's Santa collection that his mom started for him when he was a tot:

And a collection of Christmas books I've been secretly storing for the past few months:

The big tree wasn't our only tree purchase last week. Busy Bea got her very own Christmas tree this year. Of course, finding a stand to fit a tree that small took some negotiating with a Tree Lot Attendant and a little of this:

But in the end, Bea was so excited and even more proud to decorate her very own tree:

Which she did mostly on her own (aside from the lights and tinsel):

Some of the decorations were um, a little crowded. Which I had to tell the OCD voice in my head to take a hike, because after all, this is HER tree. Not mine:

But some were hung perfectly:

And this stool is still in place:

Because frequently, we'll find her like this:

Just staring at her tree. I think my girl shares her mama's passion for Christmas Tree decorations.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ain't no needles falling off this here tree... No sir...

For the first time ever, we picked our own Christmas tree straight off the stump this year! In years past, we've gone to lots around town, but this year, since we were home anyway, we capitalized on the proximity to the Mountains and visited a family-owned farm in Boone, NC. And oh, by the way, the mountains are kinda steep:
They were also freakin' freezing cold, so my child naturally couldn't put her arms down:
 I will absolutely make sure she's warm, no matter how stupid she looks. She'll thank me some day, I'm sure.
We weren't alone in our tree-finding adventures. Mandrake and Mimi, and Lacey (my step-sister) and Ava (her daughter) were there to find their trees too:
See, Mimi gets me. She appreciates warm wear as much as I do.
And my father, despite his constant bitching insistence that we could find the same trees at the Food Lion near his house, seemed to have a good time too:
Where's Waldo?
And Bea? Well, she had an okay time at first, as long as she was being bribed with promises of hot chocolate being held:
Because when she wasn't combing the mountain like this:
Or like this:

She did a whole lot of this:
She was like a wobbly newborn colt and couldn't keep her balance on the steep incline of the mountain face:
It was bad ya'll:
And she wasn't the only one having a hard time getting up the hills. CoCo was there too, but she took a no-climbing policy to heart and hung out with the tree-cutters at the foot of the hill:
Cousin Ava, however, is clearly part billy goat and in the time it took Bea to walk the span of 6 feet, Ava had climbed the mountain and back 4 times:
The kid's gross motor skills are crazy good.

Eventually, we found our tree:
And I forced a couple of "Let's take our family picture in front of our family tree" shots:
For which Bea didn't tolerate for long:
Because I'm pretty sure she was starting to freeze from the inside out:
And for her, no amount of tree talk or Santa or even Christmas presents was going to make her face unfrozen. So I sacrificed my scarf to her:
It only looks like I'm trying to smother her. She asked me to hold the scarf in place, I swear.
And we started the long, short distance walk back to the cabin to pay for our tree:
We had about 50 feet to walk, but it took about 50 years to walk it. Her legs were frozen.
Bea expected payment of that hot chocolate she was promised as soon as we walked into the room. I think her brain defrosted and the first thought it received was, "Hey, Where's that Cocoa you guys were talkin' about?":
We packed up and headed back to Mandrakes for one more night, and then tied the tree back to the car for the longest ride ever back to Durham. Thankfully, our tree had it's own ways of staying hydrated during the drive:

Tomorrow! I promise, photos of the tree in place with decorations and lights and all the "creative touches" a two year old seems to add...