Just imagine I’m saying this post out loud in Oprah voice. Ready?
IT’S THE HOLIDAAYYYYYYYS!! And to celebrate such an occasion, a group of bloggers plus I are banding together to spread the cheer with a giveaway. A WÜSTHOF knife set giveaway!! EVERYBODY GETS A —
Oh all right, I’m done.
Anywho, just popping in on this day before the weekend to share this awesome giveaway with y’all for a WUSTHOF Classic 7-Piece Block Set to one lucky reader, valued at $300 (psst — it’s the brand’s #1 selling set during the holidays, so you know it’s good).
Firstly, thank you all for being so kind and understanding about my little blogging hiatus last week. It was much-needed and super restorative and relaxing. We went to my parents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, ate a lot of yummy home-cooked food from my mama and grandmother (and of course, all the Halloween candy) and I got to meet my bestie’s most adorable new puppy, George Washington, named as such because the shelter said he had confidence issues (a.k.a., a fear of squirrels).
It was also good for my soul to get extra snuggle time in with this little one who is, quite unbelievably, SIX months old already. For Avery, six months old looks like a lot of army crawling all over the house (towards anything and everything that is not a toy, of course… we are in serious need of babyproofing ’round these parts), laughing at our funny faces and her reflection in the mirror, lots of talking — or blowing raspberries or squealing or SCREECHING, ahem — a particular affinity for crawling toward our cat Percy and grabbing his tail while squealing (he’s such a good sport about the fact that she pulls out small tufts of his fur every.single.time.) and the early stages of cuddling ← FAVORITE.
For me, having a six month old looks like more sleep (do you hear the choir of angels singing?): Avery goes down for bed around 6:45 p.m. and wakes up between 4 and 5 a.m. for a feeding, then goes right back to sleep until 7:30 or 8 a.m. so I cannot complain one iota. It also looks like a little more confidence for me in so many departments: Knowing how to listen to Avery and what her cries mean, anticipating her needs, nursing in (slightly more) public places, going to the grocery store/Target without fear that she’s going to have a conniption fit in Aisle 5 and taking in all the cuddling time I can get, because my girl is already one independent little lady. Oh, and wine. I let myself drink some wine every now and then and it is glorious.
The memories of our difficult first few months together cloud over more and more every day with each giggle, smile and reach with those chubby little arms asking for me to hold her. Watching her spunky, headstrong, hilarious and sweet personality develop is just the best. And every night as I am about to put her to bed and she’s cuddled and cozy in my arms, I fall deeper in love with her, never thinking it’s even possible to do so.
Sooooo remember that time I told you I went to Iowa to hang out in the cornfields with nine other bloggers and learn all about the corn industry in Iowa?
OK, maybe I just told you about the cornfields part. Now I shall tell you the rest.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend the Iowa CornQuest tour in Des Moines for a few days to experience all that Iowa has to offer, from its corn and livestock production to its generous, passionate people. Having lived and worked as a reporter in Iowa City for a couple of years, I was able to catch a small glimpse of this side of the state then, but nothing like what I experienced in these three days.
It’s a funny thing, taking a four and a half-month-old to an apple orchard — because all she can really do is pick leaves off the apple trees and sit on pumpkins — but last weekend, we decided to do it anyway. Because it’s fall and it was beautifully warm and apple picking is what you do is what I told myself when I came home with 10 pounds of apples. Ahem.
Rest assured, if you are an apple hoarder like I am, I have an om-nom-nommy apple recipe roundup at the bottom of this post for you to use them up in — pies and breads and muffins and pizzas, oh my. But I digress. Because I’m first here to bombard you with a gazillion photos of apples, my baby girl, my baby girl with some apples, apples on trees in the backgrounds of photos of my baby girl — you get it.
As of this weekend, I will have been a mother for three whole months – well, unless you count me carrying around a fetus when motherhood consisted of making sure I took my prenatal vitamins and didn’t eat sushi, in which case I’m coming up on a year. Either way, I’m pretty sure I literally blinked and my daughter went from “newborn” to “baby.” *Cher voice* If I could turn back tiiiiime…
I feel like I haven’t said much about this new chapter in my life since it happened so, because we’re pals, I figured I’d bring you up to speed so you have an idea of what’s been going on behind the scenes of the good ol’ GVD.
Oh, you thought it was all ice cream and slow cooker meatballs and lovely loveliness? HA. I mean yes, those things have happened, along with cuddles and smiles and laughs and feelings of so much love my heart could burst. Truly, I enjoy being a mom more than anything and I always knew this was the role I was meant to have in this world. BUT. There also have been breakdowns and blowouts and fightin’ words and eating of feelings and wonderings of, “Why the heck is she crying?” And wonderings of, “Why the heck am I crying?” and fears that maybe I’m the worst mother in the world and stressy stressiness. Still, I wouldn’t trade a single second of it.
Our friends from our church small group (all of whom have kids) have been joking with us for the last nine months that a baby “changes your life” (a phrase to which my husband always offers a sarcastic eye roll), and while we knew they were right, we had no idea what, exactly, that meant until 4:15 a.m. on May 9, 2014.
That was the moment Avery Kate Wise came into our lives. And that was the moment everything changed.
Of course, we knew we would be sleep deprived — though Lordy, we did not know just how much (for example: My husband thought he lost his socks the other day until he realized they were already on his feet). We knew there would be times we’d feel equal parts scared, excited, confused and elated. We knew there would be joy and frustration. We knew we were ready for children, but we also knew it would be hard to leave behind a life of greater independence.
What we didn’t really know, however, was just how much our hearts would explode with love for this tiny little creature in a matter of seconds. It was overwhelming, really. The bursts still come throughout these hazy days in the form of cuddles, kisses and staring at her sweet cherub face for hours. I can’t get enough of her.