How to Make Friends: Building Your Community Wherever You Go

I’ve been fairly shy my entire life. The whole “putting myself out there thing” has always caused me quite a bit of anxiety. I used to get butterflies in my stomach whenever my dad would have me call someone on the phone to thank them for a gift. I’d silently wish for the answering machine to pick up instead. Just thinking about it now brings back those all-too familiar flutters.

When my husband joined the military, we knew moving around frequently was something our family would have to get used to doing. In just the past four years alone, we have lived in three different cities. I was born and raised in the same house for eighteen years, and only ventured forty-five minutes down the road to “go off to” college. To say I like being in my “comfort zone” is an understatement.

Living in a new town requires you to put yourself out there and make new friends. This is something that has never been easy for me. I get so nervous approaching people. I feel as if I’m bothering them, or interrupting whatever it is they’re doing.

However, over the years, I’ve come to realize that people are usually just as nervous as I am when it comes to making new friends. Just like me, they’re waiting for someone to make the first move.

I admit, it’s definitely less intimidating to meet new people when you have a child. It’s a lot easier–in my opinion–to open up a conversation with “How old is your son?” rather than “How old are you?” But my problem wasn’t necessarily starting the conversation, per say, it was building upon it. I would be at various children’s play places and make small-talk with other moms, but that was the extent of it. I might bump into them again at another event and smile politely, or I might never see them again. I’d come home and my husband would ask, “Did you meet anyone new today?”

I’d tell him about so-and-so, to which he’d ask, “Well did you get her number?”

Umm, no… We would joke that making new mommy-friends was like dating all over again. My husband challenged me numerous times, “Why not? Why didn’t you ask her if she works or stays at home? Why didn’t you ask her where she’s from?” and other various “get-to-know-you” questions.

Repeatedly my response was, “Well, I don’t know. I guess I was too nervous.”

My husband’s response was, “Don’t you think she may have been just as nervous as you?”

He made a valid point. I pondered a lot about it: If I was nervous and shy about striking up a conversation that lasted more than thirty seconds, maybe other moms felt this way too?

“Make the first move,” my husband would say, “I think you’ll surprise yourself.”

So I decided to put on my Big Girl Pants, step out of my comfort zone and make the first move. And when I did, the results were amazing.

One of my first instances of “putting myself out there” led to some life-changing and memorable events. I used to take my oldest daughter, Emmalyn, to a weekly music class. There was another little girl there, the same age as Emmalyn, named Whitney, who usually came with her nanny. One day her mom brought her. I heard my husband’s voice in the back of my mind say, “Just talk. Ask for her number. Just do it.” When the class was over, I found myself conversing with this mom, who was super pleasant and equally engaging. She told me she recently quit her job to be a stay-at-home-mom and was looking to meet new moms. Ding! Ding! Ding! Hello, Opportunity.

I took a deep breathe. “We should exchange numbers and get the girls together for a playdate sometime,” I spoke up.

And thus became the start of a beautiful friendship.

On our first playdate, we learned that not only did we attend the same college, but were a part of the same sorority–just a few years a part! Our friendship quickly grew over the next few months, as did our daughters’. They were soon calling each other “Ems” and “Whit” and telling everyone they were “best friends.” Somewhere along the way, I too, found a best friend.

As our friendship was developing, I knew a move with the military was inevitable. It would have been easy to not let myself get involved, knowing we would be moving in just a few short months. Yes, it would have been easy, but it wouldn’t have been fair. Friendships don’t have to be One-Size-Fits-All. I can’t imagine my life without Meri and her sweet daughter Whitney, and I know my daughter feels the same way.

My relationship with Meri is just one example of how putting yourself out there can have such rewarding results. When we moved seven hours away last year, I had to make new friends all over again. It still didn’t feel “normal” for me to make the first move and ask for another mom’s phone number, but I knew the importance of building a community. I didn’t want my only friend to be my three year-old. It took some time and a few missed opportunities for me to realize how silly I was being. “Just do it,” I could hear my husband say.

So I did. I began interacting with other moms at play places, eagerly exchanging contact information. It felt a little foreign and quite random at times, but it was so worth it. I’ve exchanged numbers with moms at parks, in department stores in the baby section, and at Story Times. When I would come home with a new mom’s number, I’d be all giddy–like I was fifteen years-old again, sometimes even throwing in a happy-dance for good measure.

Building a community with other moms is vital. I’ve learned a lot from them, and I’ve learned a lot about me through them. It’s fun watching our children develop friendships, but it’s even more fun when we leave the kids at home and meet for breakfast after dropping them off at school, or grab a glass of wine for Girls’ Night, or meet once a month for Book Club.

I’m so thankful I decided to abandon my inhibitions and anxiety over meeting new people.

Imagine all I would have missed out on if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone and introduced myself? A whole heck of a lot–that’s what!

loyally,
katie

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To the People Who Love My Kid

Y’all rock! No joke. There’s something exciting about seeing people snag your child up at the door and envelop them in a tight embrace. Er, wait… let me rephrase that… There’s something about seeing people you trust snag up your child. Yeah, that’s better.
To those people, thank you. Thank you for caring about my child as much as you do. Just because we’re friends doesn’t mean you automatically have to like my daughter. But, still, you do. & honestly, I think you sometimes like her better than me. & if you would rather take her out for coffee than me, I’d totally be cool with that. In fact, when can you pretty please come and take her for a girls’ day out?? Since you love her so much more than me, I’d be happy to oblige by staying at home by myself… with peace and quiet….
I digress.
But seriously, it warms my heart to know that you really and truly do care about my daughter. I’m flooded with happiness knowing it’s not a burden to bring Emmalyn with us to your house for dinner, or (grown-up) game nights. She’s welcomed, and it’s humbling. Your patience, when Emmalyn wants to hold the Catch Phrase game, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
I can see the love going both ways in Emmalyn’s eyes when she hears that we’re going to see you. She won’t stop asking about you until we’re physically in your presence. And as if I weren’t already convinced of the love, she reassures me by jumping into your arms. As a parent, it’s a huge relief to know that my daughter is loved and cared for by others.
You don’t just love my child when things are easy, though. Nope. You also love her when she’s crawling under the restaurant table, licking your windows, or ripping her Flower Girl dress right before you walk down the aisle. Yep. That says a lot about the person you are. Someone who is there for you no matter what! Those are the kinds of people I want to not only surround myself, but my daughter, with.
So thank you. Thank you for being a part of our silly little family.
I must say, I think of Emmalyn as an extension of myself. & you love Emmalyn. & because Emmalyn is really just an extension of me, well that just means you really love me.
loyally,
katie
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Emmy’s BFF

There’s nothing better than seeing your child happy. And over the last seven months, I’ve witnessed my young daughter extremely happy. I know a lot of her happiness has to do with meeting her best friend, Whitney. In January, Whitney’s mommy, Meri, and I began planning playdates for the girls. In doing so, we found out we had much more in common than just two brown-eyed little beauties. Not only are we both only children, but we also went to the same college and are sorority sisters! 
I knew right away Emmalyn and I had hit it off with Whitney and Meri. We all instantly felt comfortable with one another, and that’s difficult to find. Usually either the kids hit it off, but not the moms; or the moms hit it off, but not the kids. We often times laugh because the girls are so much alike. Their vocabulary and sentence structure is beyond a two year-old level, creating quite involved and entertaining conversations amongst themselves. Their personalities are also right on par with one another, too. They’re outgoing and sassy… always bringing attention wherever we go! I owe so much to Meri, who took a chance on us when she found out we would be moving eight hours away in a few months, on our first play date. She could have easily decided not to invest in us, & I was afraid we wouldn’t build a friendship based on this elephant in the room, but that never once stood in the way. If anything, it brought us closer together–teaching me to live in the moment & savor each and every day like it’s the last.
During the last several months, we have gone on so many great adventures with the girls–splash pads, water parks, music classes, gymnastics, picnics, amusement parks… just to name a few! My favorite memory with the girls was when we had a “Best Friends Photo Shoot” at a local park. There, we dressed the girls up in princess costumes and had a picnic. It was nostalgic to see such a young and pure friendship.
A rush of emotions fell over me when watching the girls chase one another through the park. I felt a sense of sadness that we have to move away when the girls are still so little. & I felt thankful that my daughter has gained such a great friend to keep for life. But not only did Emmalyn gain a best friend–I did, too. Meri’s friendship means so much to me, and Emmalyn seriously adores her. One day, Emmalyn ran to Meri and said, “You’re my mommy.” You’d think I’d be upset or a little jealous, but I wasn’t. I was thankful that Emmalyn could feel so comfortable around someone else, and think of her as a “second mom”.
While Emmalyn and I won’t get to see Meri and Whitney weekly like we’re used to, I know we’ll all remain friends. It’s heartbreaking at times to hear Emmalyn ask to go to Whitney’s house, or ask if Whitney will be at the park we’re going to, but we’re determined to stay in touch by having FaceTime play dates, and traveling back and forth to see one another. We’re even setting up a toddler “pen pal program” to keep the girls connected! It’s not every day you make a lifelong friend!
 
 
~
good friends are like stars.
you don’t always see them,
but you know they’re always there.
~
 
loyally,
katie 
*p.s. the professional looking photographs (a.k.a. non-iPhone pics) were taken by Steven Verlander Photography

A Chicka Chicka Birthday Party

A cool, overcast morning welcomed the start of my baby girl’s second birthday–a day I had been anticipating for a long time. Months of visualizing, planning, and creating was finally here. My favorite book as a child was about to come to life for my own daughter. 
Life is so much sweeter as a mother. 
I enjoy life immensely more, seeing things through my daughter’s eyes.

As if on cue, the clouds opened like a curtain, debuting the Florida sunshine. My vision of Emmalyn’s second birthday party was exceeded, above and beyond. Emmalyn was surrounded by a plethora of friends and family. The best part was that we actually had littles at her party this year! Seeing Emmalyn race to her friends in excitement, and introduce them to those around her, was a favorite moment of mine. (That–and the adult relay race we had!)
: : :
Just like last year, we hosted her party in our backyard. We’re sure going to miss this oasis when we move for B’s residency this spring.
 Chicka Chicka Bounce Bounce
Mama’s & Papa’s Mimosas
{spiked pink lemonade & sparkling peach moscato}
The guests signed a brand new copy of the book. Someone did not tell this mama that books cost $17.99 nowadays!? WTF?! I think I’m going to have people sign in a *themed* book every year for Emmy’s birthday.
Chicka Chicka Chicken (from Chick-fil-a) & Flip Flop Fruit
 Pileup Pasta
Full Moon Favors … a.k.a. Chocolate-covered Oreos with sprinkles!
Dare Double Dare Dip
Happy 2nd Birthday!
A B Cookies & Boom Boom Brownies
{a.k.a. diabetes brownies & death by cookies}
The moment Emmalyn had been waiting for all day!
 ! C A K E !
Yes, my child WOULD put all the candles back on the cake instead of actually eating the cake.
just a few of Emmy’s friends…
: : :
It was a perfect day, for a perfect party, for a perfect little girl.

Thank you to everyone who made her party possible!!

& a special shout-out to my husband, who helped make Emmy possible 😉
loyally,
katie

Expectations

Often times, I wish I could have better relationships with certain people in my life. When a friend doesn’t call me for weeks (or even months) my feelings are hurt; and I feel unloved and rejected. You know how the old saying goes… Don’t worry about what other people think about you. Instead of trying to disprove the latter statement, I have recently learned to embrace it.
There’s no question that subconsciously we place expectations on other people. Personally, I try to live up to the Golden Rule of Treat Others the Way You Would Want Them to Treat You. Because of this *lifestyle* I super glue expectations to people, only to feel disappointed when they don’t meet them. For instance, I like to send friends and family random, sweet and/or funny texts/pictures every so often. It’s my way of saying: Hey You! I’m thinkin’ bout ‘ya! Thus, my Golden Rule alter ego expects So-&-So to do the same every once in a while. And if they don’t, I feel like I’m no longer important to them.
Now I have come to realize that these kind and thoughtful gestures may not be in So-&-So’s personality. But just because they didn’t act the way I wanted them to, doesn’t mean I should assume they don’t still think about me, or appreciate me any less. Furthermore, I shouldn’t even worry about why So-&-So doesn’t call me anymore, or write on my Facebook wall. These expectations I place on people are binding, and leave me feeling frustrated and sad. Letting go of the strings has helped me see what is really important…
I feel good about myself when I shoot So-&-So a thoughtful text. Trying to wish someone to be different or change is not going to make me feel any better. I wish some friends from college would call me when they’re in town so we can get together and catch up. I wish I had a closer relationship with some family members. I wish. I wish. I wish. 
Through prayer, and a lot of reading and thinking, I’ve learned to let go of these wishes demands. Would it make me feel good if I had these better relationships? Yes. Do I need to have these better relationships in order to make me feel good? No. It is not necessary for people to acknowledge me. Obviously I think it’s undesirable, but it’s not terrible. No one can determine my happiness. Only I can.
We tell ourselves we’re supposed to be appreciated for what we give to others. But true giving doesn’t need acknowledgement, or anything in return for that matter. All that is important to me is how God views me. Now that I have stopped wishing for people to act differently, or in a particular way, I actually feel better! I’ve trained my thoughts to accept that I do not have the power to change others. & just because So-&-So doesn’t do what I *expect* him/her to do, doesn’t mean I don’t like So-&-So for who he/she is!
Do you place expectations on other people? How do you deal with the disappointment?
Loyally,
Katie

Better Late Than Never

*Originally written on May 17, 2011:
There has been a momentous amount of changes around here lately. One, being our move back home into a (rental) house for our new family of three (4, counting Indy). Between taking care of Emmy and setting up the new house as much as possible before B joins me for good, I hadn’t given much though about the house we were leaving behind. That was until B told me last night that everything was completely moved out. Every last bit of it.
And then, it hit me like a brick. I didn’t know I was going to become so emotional about it. I guess I was too distracted by the excitement and commotion of living close to both sets of Emmy’s grandparents. And it seems a little silly that it would all the sudden “hit” me, when two weeks ago, my dad and in-laws helped me pack the rest of my and Emmy’s belongings into a U-haul. But I think, somewhere in my mind, I thought I was still going to have time to spend one more weekend there. Two weeks ago, I was the last one out of the house to lock up, and I had this very nostalgic, drama-movie-like moment where I stared down a bare hallway, bag in one hand, keys in the other; and revisited, in my mind, every memory made in this house.
This was the home Blake and I spent during our engagement. This was the home we spent as a newly married couple. This was the home we found out we were having a baby. This was the home we brought our little girl home from the hospital. This was the home my husband laid down his head every night I was away from him, recovering from postpartum depression.
I never thought I could get so emotional over a temporary home.
But I also never imagined I would meet so many people who would touch my life forever.
Last night, as I began thinking about all the people I will be moving away from, so too, began the waterworks.
First of all, our next-door neighbor, Becky… A sassy & stylish seventy-something-year-old, with a fun sense of humor and contagious laugh, became a true friend. She was there for me at nine o’clock one December night when I walked through the bushes–barefoot & in shorts; with Emmy tightly tucked in the Moby, as I was having a panic attack while no one was home. And in the crucial days leading up to my rock bottom days, she would babysit keep me company while B was at school.
And then there are my friends. My medschoolwifeclub friends. I don’t think I could have made it through B’s first two years of med school without these ladies. No one understands what it’s like to be married to a spouse in med school, unless you are one. We’ve laughed, cried, vented, and supported one another through numerous tribulations. We’ve babysat one another’s littles, swapped recipes, peer-pressured some to start a blog, & taught each other how to sew. These wives have taught me so much… like how to play Phase 10. I will miss the nights we planned to watch American Idol, but instead laughed until we cried and/or peed a little.
We’ve been through engagements, weddings, two births, & another on the way. Life-altering moments, yo! These girls sent me e-mails and voicemails, and prayers while I was in the hospital. And when I got better, I crashed their game night via Skype. There will never be the right words to thanks these outstanding friends, or describe just how much they mean to me. But I love them. So much! & as cliché as it sounds—but it’s the truth—I know we’ll be friends forever.
I mean, there will always be social networking, right? So I’ll always be able to stalk keep in touch with them forever & ever, right…???

Sneaky Peaky

Here’s just a little taste of my heavenly baby shower! 

Fortunately for Blake and me, we had so many people taking pictures for us. 
Unfortunately, that means I don’t have very many pictures to share right now. 
As soon as I do, I’ll be sure to post them!
But for now… ENJOY
{I know I did!}

The beautiful diaper cake my best friend/sorority sister/bridesmaid, Lauren made me:

My newborn hospital picture, and ‘Baby Blake’ 
{I could die over how cute he looks!}:

My bestie forever (since kindergarten!), Aunt Dana, flew in from NYC:

(most of) The Aftermath:

Oh! And what’s that I’m holding? 
Oh, just my new SLR, nobigdeal
Chrismakah came early this year, thanks to my amazing parents. They knew we’ve been wanting this little bad boy and knew the importance of having it before the chickadee makes her arrival. {And this far in the game, you just never know when that’ll be.} All the pictures above were taken with this camera (no edits, yo). Now y’all won’t have to suffer with crappy iPhone picsies 😉 I just gotta learn how to use it!


*****

The baby’s shower was absolutely amazing. So many important people in our lives came out to celebrate our little girl. I feel truly blessed. I can’t wait to share more about it!!
 [And I’m sure some of y’all are dying to see all the goodies]

**In case anyone is wondering more specifically, the camera is a Canon EOS Digital Rebel Xs Black 10.1 MP Digital SLR with an 18-55-IS lens. 
My parents also got us a Canon EF-S 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS Optical Image Stabilizer Telephoto Zoom Lens**



Meet My Friend, Ashley!

Hey Y’all,
After much coaxing and maybe a few death threats (…j/k!!) my friend Ashley has finally started a blog! Ashley’s husband, Aric, is a second year med student with Blake. I met Ashley while she was pregnant; she and Aric decided not to find out if they were having a boy or girl (they’re crazy!). 
Flash forward to D-Day… IT’S A BOY! 
His name is Aidan, and he’s soooo precious! Ashley was kind enough to let me hold this head-full of hair beautiful baby boy at just eight.hours.old! It doesn’t get better than that, my friends! 

You know how ‘they’ say when you’re in college you and your roommates all magically get your periods at the same time…?? Well, Blake seems to think Little Miss was created from being surrounded by too much baby-love! Because less than a week later, she was conceived. Coincidence? Hormones? Who knows! But it makes me laugh thinking about it.

Me & little Aidan at the hospital: 

First photo shoot:
[Marissa is another med school wife and is going to do my maternity and newborn shots!]

And now…. at almost 7 months old…!
[Little Misses future boyfriend]
Look at that hair! It’s just as fabulous in real-life. Mmm… I could eat him up! One chubby cheek at a time!

So go on now! Check out her new blog…. 

Show her some love, y’all! 🙂







When in Rome…

Picturesque seaside scenery, unique natural beauties, tantalizing wines, and carb-free pasta dishes…

…this is how Blake and I plan to spend our vacation this summer.


That’s right, B and I are going to Europe. Italy and Paris, to be more specific. We booked our flights last week and will be arriving in one of the most marvelous places on Earth come the end of May. For two weeks we’ll be witnessing breath-taking views and soaking up the rich culture. We’re fortunate enough to be traveling with another fun and wonderful couple.


I’m very excited for this adventure, and even more blessed to be sharing it with the love of my life.


My friend Megan and I have been anxiously planning the destinations, while Blake and her husband are busy studying for med school. Essentially, this is B’s last summer for the rest of his life and we decided to do it BIG.


In the beginning, our hearts were set on going to Greece, too, but apparently Greece isn’t doing well economically and are on strike. We were disappointed, but understood it wouldn’t be feasible. Tentatively, Megan and I have come up with the following destinations. 


We fly into Rome, but will take the train to Sorrento, located along the Amalfi Coast. A thirty minute boat ride will lead us to Capri, where we’ll spend the day bronzing in the Mediterranean sun.



Peaceful landscape full of serene rolling hills, olive groves, cypress trees, vineyards, and medieval towns and castles is what attracts us to Tuscany. A wine-tasting tour is a must.



Cinque Terre is the unique part of our trip because it’s one of those “Back Door” destinations that not many tourists know about. A seven mile hike (including a “Lovers Lane”) will lead us through unforgettable views of it’s National Park. There’s just something charming and romantic about these “Five Lands,” which is what Cinque Terre translates to.





What is there to even say about Paris? I think it speaks for itself.



With it’s infamous architecture and as a home to Romeo and Juliet, our trip would not be complete without Rome. It’s an Eternal City; a cultural icon filled with secrets and romantic sneak-aways. Love is everywhere in Rome.


…do as the Romans do.

My question to you is: Have you been to Italy or Paris? Do you have any suggestions, ideas, regrets? I’d love to hear what you have to say.


Ciao, Bella


Star Struck

As a lot of you know, I went to the Michael Buble concert this weekend, but what you (and I) didn’t know was that Blake surprised me with FLOOR SEATS!! He kept it a secret for months and surprisingly I didn’t badger him to tell me where we were sitting. I knew they had to be good seats if he was keeping it a secret, but I didn’t know they were going to be this good:

This is without zooming in!

Something you may not know about B is that he’s pretty charming and can make friends with a wall. So it came as no surprise when he made friends with an usher (as soon as I calmed down from finding out we had floor seats). Some of our family members had been at his show a few days prior and informed us MB comes out into the middle of the audience and onto a small stage to sing a couple of songs. He asked the usher exactly when and where he would be doing so. Of course she told us. He’s good like that. *In exchange for this insider information he promised to take pictures on her camera phone

We had to let the couple sitting next to us in on this little secret, so they wouldn’t be alarmed when I trampled them when the moment arrived that MB would be singing RIGHT NEXT TO US! Our seats were just a small leap away from where he would be performing. 

The sweet usher told us exactly which song he’d be making his way towards us. As soon as I heard the song, my game face was on! We saw the stage being propped up, MB walking down the stairs of the main stage, and we bolted. Good thing too, because other people caught on and were running our way. There were security guards around, but they weren’t going to stop a crowd of screaming girls, cougars, and their man friends snapping pictures!

Can I just say that if I were watching myself from afar, I’d probably be making fun of me. I was screaming his name and jumping up and down just trying to get a grab at him. Well, my friends, persistence and making a fool of yourself pays off because that cute crooner reached down and grabbed my hand…. AND his sweat particles landed upon me! 

It made my night. For sure. And I couldn’t be happier that my wonderful boyfriend was there to capture it all on camera. B was scared for a moment I wasn’t going to return. Here are some pictures of how close we were: [I was touching the stage unbeknownst to the security guards]

*yes that’s me…bottom right… right after he grabbed my hand… and the salt ‘n peppered-haired security guard no longer in front of me*





I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend, and has a very blessed week!
P.S. Let me know if you can’t view the videos. This is my first attempt at being tech-savvy. I used iMovie for the first time today and impressed myself! ha!