North Carolina Goodbyes & California Vibes

So we did A Thing: We moved across the country…. to California! I can’t believe we did it, but we did. It wasn’t easy–that’s for sure; and it’s not over yet! It has been stressful, both physically and emotionally.


This adventure in our life has been Crazy with a capital C. There’s so much I want to say and yet, for weeks now, every time I try to sit down {‘try’ being the operative word because A) I own three needy little humans, and B) because I’m sleep deprived} I just can’t seem to put into words all of my emotions. Like the fact that I’ve been wanting to write a “love letter” of sorts to my friends in North Carolina, but I keep pressing the delete button because I don’t feel like my words emulate just how much they mean to me.

Moving with the military is bittersweet. Getting to live in different locations, climates, and houses is both fun and exciting, for many reasons. If we weren’t forced to purge our stuff every two years, I’m slightly afraid we’d be submitted to be on the TV show, Hoarders! The hardest part about moving every two years in having to leave behind some wonderful people. There’s no other way to say it, except for: “It sucks!” But I truly believe it is “better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” I wouldn’t be the person I am today without every single one of my friends from past moves. And that helps ease the sting a bit…

Making new friends can be tough, so when you meet people you really connect with, it can be very difficult to leave them. But what’s even more devastating than leaving your own friends, is watching your kids leave their best friends.

There have been some rough days, watching my girls (especially Emmalyn) feel sad over leaving her friends. When she says things like, “I wish we didn’t have to keep moving houses. I wish we could just buy a house and stay with our family forever,” it breaks my heart! But she continues to show me just how strong and resilient she is, and it puts a smile on my face whenever she FaceTimes, SnapChats, or Marco Polos her friends.

I’m sure going to miss our quiet and quaint little Nicholas Sparks town, and all the people in it! But as Winnie the Pooh once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” That chubby little cubby is a wise one.

The logistics of sending your entire life across the country is quite tedious. It took months of preparation, starting with my aunt helping me organize and purge a lot of our stuff. I don’t know what I would have done without her help! I am 100% positive all of her hard work (and a dash of mine) is going to pay off WHEN we move in to our new house.

Oh, that’s right… we left North Carolina on May 22, and still haven’t moved in to our house. We have stayed in three different hotels and are now in a vacation rental condo (for another three weeks!!!) At least we can see the Pacific Ocean from our window…

Some days I feel like I’m losing my damn mind, y’all! One Friday, I went the entire day thinking it was Thursday. Now, people do this a lot of the time, but usually snap out of it within a few hours (or at least by the end of the day). Well, NOPE, not me. I woke up Saturday morning believing it was Friday. I looked over at my still sleeping husband and was worried his alarm didn’t go off for work. I asked him, “Do you have to go to work today?” and was elated when he answered, “No,” believing he had a surprise weekday off! Later that morning I got a phone call from the massage place asking if I wanted to reschedule since it was 10:05 and my appointment was for 10:00. I confidently said, “My massage is for tomorrow.” The lady on the phone apologized and said she would see me then. When I got off the phone Blake asked, “What about church?” I was all like, “What do you mean? Tomorrow is Saturday.” He said, “No it’s not. Today is Saturday.” Then I continued to argue with him over it. Seriously, folks, I am losing it!

Living out of one container of toys and books, and living off of ten outfits is difficult, to say the least. The girls have been fighting a lot more because they’re on top of one another 24/7, sharing every inch of this condo. Fortunately, Emmalyn will be going to musical theatre camp this week, giving the girls a break from one another. 

We have definitely made a lot of happy memories amidst the chaos, though. We’ve gone to the zoo, the beach, Balboa Park, lots of different playgrounds, hiking, outlet shopping, and swimming. We’ve also met some wonderfully kind families, welcoming us to this beautiful new town (and watching my kids so I can go to the grocery store in peace and pick up everything on my list because I can actually hear myself think!).

I joined the good ‘ole YMCA, and have taken Barre and Yoga, which has been super helpful for my psyche. Pinteresting paint colors and loft beds have also distracted me from being “homeless” this past month.

Knowing that “This Too Shall Pass”, helps me get through the OMG-I’m-Going-To-Sell-My-Kids-To-The-Circus moments.

Normalcy is right around the corner–I can feel it!

loyally,
katie

Today is a New Day

Thanking God this morning for literally a breath of fresh air. 

Yesterday was a shit day. Adelaide couldn’t go to school because she was sick the day before, but I had a hair appointment. My amazing cleaning lady insisted she watch Adelaide so I could get my hair done before we go out of town. I bring Alexander to the salon with me and he is a pretty good sport. Here’s when things go downhill: The new girl cuts my hair two inches TOO SHORT and screws up the color! It was so blotchy, but I didn’t realize this until I got home and played around with it. I cried! This is my worst nightmare! I call the owner and she says she will fix it that evening. So I scramble around to find childcare since Blake was suppose to be taking a night flight. No such luck. She says she can come in early the next day, too, but I realize Adelaide has her school pictures and I don’t want her to miss them because when you’re a military kid those things are important.

Meanwhile, I get the two littles dressed to see the Easter Bunny and in the car to pick up Emmalyn from school. We get to the mall, only to be told we have to wait thirty minutes for The Bunny to come back. The girls are hungry, but there’s no food court in our mall because: small town. I get them Chex Mix from Michael’s Crafts, but we have to wait in the longest line! By this time, the bunny is back. 

As I was taking Alexander out of the car seat, he scratches his face and is bleeding. He’s never done this, but of course it happens seconds before the picture. I also realize he has a poop and is hungry (notice his searching-for-the-boob-face below). Also, Adelaide all the sudden decides she is afraid of The Bunny and refuses to get in the picture. No amount of chocolate bribery will work. I choose not to force the situation because I don’t want to traumatize my daughter. After all, I would punch someone in the face if they forced me to have my picture taken with a bird. So I focus on the other two kids, but Alexander is fixated on finding milk from The Bunny and will not turn his head towards the camera. I am sweating at this point. We get the best picture we can and call it a day. Then The Bunny hands Emmalyn a candy and Adelaide goes to get one, but I tell her no because she did not get her picture taken. The Bunny does a back-and-forth dance with the candy, not sure what to do, and ultimately gives Adelaide the candy. I take it away and she has a full-blown meltdown all the way across the parking lot. 

I vow never to do Easter Bunny pics again. It’s not worth it! Did we even interact with the bunny? NOPE. Did we get a picture with all three kids? NOPE. Did anyone have fun? NOPE. What was the effing point?! 

As I put Alexander’s car seat in the car, the stroller rolls away across the parking lot and I have no clue until a random man shouts out to inform me. Adelaide puts up a mean fight to get in her car seat, but I don’t back down. I have to use every muscle in my body, but I finally get her in. I collapse into the driver’s seat and cry. (And this is hard to do when you’re on antidepressants!) 

“Mommy is having a bad day,” I tell the girls. Apparently this is code for: Let’s Fight All The Way Home. One shining beacon of light is Blake calls and says he will cancel his flight so I can get my hair fixed. I feel terribly guilty about that, but tell myself sometimes I need to put myself first! 

I somehow manage to throw two frozen pizzas in the oven and the girls in the tub. As soon as Blake gets home, I grab the baby and hightail it out of the house, back to the salon. The owner was super apologetic and sweet, and thankfully Alexander slept the whole time. I got home after 9pm, nursed the baby, pumped, ate a snack while watching trashy reality TV (The Twins), and crashed as soon as my head hit my pillow. 

The whole day I kept repeating the first line from The Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

The nice thing about days are: they must come to an end. And tomorrow will always be a new day. I woke up this morning, reciting a Hail Mary and The Lord’s Prayer, and vowed to have a positive outlook on the day. After all, our sweet little boy is getting baptized this weekend, and there’s no sacrament more exciting!

God is good!

loyally,
katie


Here’s the full Serenity Prayer in case you need it today:

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 

Amen.
(Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971)

Law of Babies & The Hoover Dam

What you’re about to read are true events.

A friend was coming over for dinner so I decided to throw the girls in the bathtub directly after school to get it out of the way. They’re normally pretty well-behaved in the tub so I thought, Hey–why don’t I jump in the shower real quick? After all, the baby was sleeping in the bassinet so I figured I had a little time. 

Plus, my scalp was really hurting. Has your scalp ever hurt because your hair is so heavy? Y’all don’t hate on my thick hair. I’m grateful for it and all, but sometimes it can be a real pain in my… er, head... because it’s so thick and long and the weight just pulls on my scalp. Damn gravity. The pain is comparable to when your two year-old wants to “play with Mommy’s hair”. Wait, maybe that’s why my scalp really hurts? I can’t be sure at this point anymore. Anyway, the only thing that makes my scalp feel better is washing it. Actually, a scalp massage by my husband does the trick, too, but since he was flying, a shampooing would suffice.

But I digress.

I put Alexander in front of the shower (there’s no door or curtain to our shower) so I can keep an eye on him, should he wake up. Which he does because Law of Babies: Whenever a mother enters a shower, a baby shall cry. 
my actual shower. 
pic cred: my actual iphone.


So I’m rinsing out the shampoo and dreading turning the hot water off, when I hear, “Adelaide stop hitting me! MOOOOMMMMM, she’s hitting me thirty times!”

Shit.

How long has she been hitting her big sis while I was in the shower? How dare I care about my hygiene! Moms can be so selfish sometimes…
I throw a towel around me and fly down the hall to see: Yes. Yes, the toddler is hitting her sister. To which I sternly state, “Adelaide, stop hitting your sister.” Naturally. Then run back down the hall to tend to the still-crying newborn. 

I know he’s hungry because he looks like a blind baby bird searching for a worm. But my hair is sopping wet and I don’t want to baptize him because I don’t think I am qualified to do that; plus none of our family is here and I’d be such a jerk if I held such a momentous occasion without them. So I tell him he’s gotta take one for the team and wait while I brush my hair and ring out some of the water. But this isn’t an easy feat because my hair is naturally wavy-curly and it takes half a bottle of detangler spray and a month to brush it. No joke. My roommate in college could take a full shower before I was done brushing my hair. It sounds like I’m being ungrateful for my thick and long hair. I promise I’m not. Well maybe just a little.

So three hours go by and the baby is STILL crying. Sheesh, doesn’t he understand priorities? So I go to pick him up to nurse him, only to hear, “STOP IT ADELAIDE! MMOOOOOMMMMM, she’s hitting me again!” I run down the hall, but this time in the buff, and also this time leaking breastmilk down my body. It’s like the Hoover Dam has sprouted a leak from my boobs. I shout to the girls, “Drain the water; you’re getting out!” Then run back down the hall to the baby. Still crying.

I start to pick him up then think, I better put on some pants. It’s drafty. I STILL hear fighting from the girls so I shove the baby on the boob, then run back down the hall. With one hand, because Baby on the Boob, I get Adelaide out of the tub, towel her up, dry her off, and put on her pull-up and jammies. Emmalyn is old enough to fend for herself. Well, I wouldn’t send her out into the wild to fend for herself–yet. She’s only six! She needs to be at least ten for that. Geeze, what kind of mom do you think I am?!

The moral of the story? There is none. This was just a crazy and true scene from my life and I thought I’d share. You’re welcome 🙂 

loyally,
katie

A Postpartum Update


It’s been three weeks since our little man, Alexander, entered the world. And if you didn’t already know, I had to have an emergency c-section, after twenty-four hours of labor, because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck–three times! Of course we didn’t know this until he was born. 

It was such an out-of-body-experience, and in a lot of ways, just like you see in the movies: After being stuck at 7cm and contractions not increasing in intensity, and hours of the doctor, nurses, and Blake maneuvering me in every possible position to try to get a better read of the baby’s heartbeat, my OB-GYN finally said, “We did all we could. We need to go NOW.”

To say I was frightened to have a c-section would be an understatement. I was taken by total surprise, after having two previous natural deliveries. I also have never had surgery before. I was shaking and crying and praying a hundred Hail Mary’s. 

But it was all worth it for my perfect little boy. Because it was an emergency delivery, nurses were pulled in from all directions and they didn’t know we’d been keeping his gender a surprise. I imagined a huge “IT’S A…..!” announcement, but there was nothing. Honestly, I didn’t even know the doctor had already cut into me until I heard a baby cry. Blake and I, blind on the other side of the curtain, heard whispers of, “Hey buddy” and “his” and “he”. We looked at each other and I said, “Did they say ‘he’?!” But it wasn’t until the nurse brought him around the curtain that we saw the true reveal. It was a BOY! We both broke down in tears. 

The c-section was a surprise, but the fact that our baby was a boy was an even bigger shocker! I couldn’t believe it. Some days, I still don’t even believe it, even though I change his diaper a million times a day.

I think what scared me the most about having a c-section was the thought of recovering, while also taking care of three small humans. I thought, I’m going to be in lots of pain and confined to a bed–how the heck am I going to do this?! Originally, Blake and I planned to have a couple of days at home before family came to visit, but because of the urgency of my care, my angelic mother-in-law flew in just hours after we got home from the hospital. Unfortunately, my mom had to have unexpected surgery on her foot and was unable to come. (But that’s a whole other emotional story. Thankfully she’s recovering well! Praise God!)

The recovery of a c-section was a painful one and it took a toll on me emotionally. On top of that, our oldest daughter came down with a 104 fever, and the baby and I had to basically be quarantined to the bedroom. That did not do well for my psyche. You’d think with this being my third child, I would have remembered how much of an emotional roller coast postpartum can be, but I didn’t. I had many moments of, Is this EVER going to get better? and Am I EVER going to feel like myself again? Needless to say, I wasn’t cutting myself much slack, and was being far too hard on myself, especially after having major abdominal surgery. I’m thankful for a husband and a phone call from my therapist to remind me: One step at a time… 


With my history of Postpartum Depression, I couldn’t help but think, “Is today the day I’m going to get it?” I had the same feelings after Adelaide was born, too. But I had to force myself to stay positive, patient, and faithful in the Lord. I’m happy to say that it doesn’t look like PPD is going to be rearing its ugly head this time around! I have zero anxiety about taking care of the baby, and my girls are driving me the same amount of bananas as they always were. 

The adjustment from two to three was easier than I anticipated. But then again, I usually have the mentality of “expect the worst…” that way I’m pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of “stop-touching-hims” and a lot more “wait-a-minutes” these days, but I’m hoping that will soon dissipate, as the girls are forced to be learn to be more patient. (A mom can dream, right?!)

Overall, I’m doing really well! I’m so grateful to all the people who have called, prayed, taken care of the girls, and brought us meals to feed our bellies and save us from cooking or giving our kids frozen pizza and mac-n-cheese every night. We’ll save those meals for when things get back to normal 😉

loyally,
katie

Life Lately

To say that life has been crazy around these parts lately, would be an understatement. So much has been happening, that I don’t even know where to begin.

No, I’m not pregnant.

But my baby did turn ONE YEAR OLD!

I cannot believe it. It’s silly to think that we may or may not have once been disappointed when we found out she was a girl. We had our hearts and hopes set on having a boy. But now? I cannot imagine life without her. Not! One! Single! Bit! Every piece of Adelaide was meant to be in our lives. It has been a blessing from God to watch her grow over the past year. And I cannot believe that we are still going strong on our one-boob nursing journey! It’s incredible to think that I have kept a small human alive with one single boob!

(Okay, I’ll change the subject…)

I have loved watching Emmalyn step up as Big Sister. Although, I must admit, it’s quite exhausting shouting, “Put her down!” and “Stop licking your sister!” ump-teen times a day!

At four-and-a-half, Emmalyn lives up to her “in-utero” nickname of Diva Muffin. That girl has more sass than Liberace had sequins! She keeps me on my toes–that’s for sure. But she’s also quite entertaining, with her endless imagination, and her love for making up songs and dances.

Probably the biggest news in our neck of the woods is that WE ARE MOVING! This Florida Girl is spreading her wings and seeing what else the great U.S. of A. has to offer! Blake and I have moved three times in our five years of marriage, but this is the first time either of us has moved out of Florida. I’m very excited, but tremendously sad to be leaving my friends here.

Blake and I have spent many nights pondering if we’re doing the right thing. It seriously breaks my heart, taking Emmy away from her sweet little friends. She has made some of the most amazing friendships at such a young age. But then I think about how some of my closest friends live in New York, Louisiana, and Florida. We may not see each other in person as often as we’d wish, but when we do, it’s like we never skipped a beat. And with the amazingly crazy invention of FaceTime, we’re only a click away.

Here’s to continuing our adventures!

loyally,
katie

Instagram: @katievanbrunt
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Mommy, I want to look pretty

This morning, my four year-old daughter said something that completely stopped me in my tracks. I saw her excessively fiddling with her hair, which made me cringe because she was really just creating a bird’s nest, and I dreaded having to comb through all those knots. I asked her what she was doing, to which she responded: “I’m doing my hair because I want to look pretty.”
 
I cringed again, but for a much deeper reason. I hate the idea that my little girl thinks she has to have her hair a certain way in order to look pretty. I immediately said, “But you’re already pretty.” My mind immediately flashed back to all the times I’ve unintentionally put emphasis on her looks.
 
Ninety-five percent of the time people will open up a conversation with me by saying, “She’s so cute,” or “look how pretty she is.” No one ever says, “Look how smart she is.” Eventually, once they get to know her they will comment on her strength, imagination, athletic ability, and/or manners. But their initial comments are always superficial.
 
I’m just as guilty of doing the same to other children. As a society we place beauty above brains. But we’ve got it all wrong. The emphasis should be on brains and inner beauty.
 
Looking back, there have been many situations in which I’ve made “good looks” a priority for my daughter. Oh, just yesterday, I bribed her with “a treat” (two yogurt covered pretzels) just so she would put on tights and a bow in her hair to have her picture taken with Santa. I loathe bribing kids with food–especially sweets, and it went against my intuition, but I was desperate for her to look a certain way. Why? Truthfully, I have no idea. I cannot come up with a un-vain reason for why she had to be dressed the way I wanted her to.
 
I provide my daughter with a multitude of compliments unrelated to her outer beauty, everyday. But her comment this morning got me thinking about the number of times I tell her things like, “That’s such a cute dress,” or “I like your hair like that,” or “I wish you would wear this instead.”
 
Now I’m not saying to stop these comments altogether; I mean, I like being told I look lovely just as much as the next gal, but I truly believe we shouldn’t be so quick to make comments only on good looks to impressionable young girls who absorb our every words like sponges.
 
So, the next time you feel the urge to make a vain-ish comment to your daughter, try to replace it with one of these alternatives:
 
– I like the way you play nicely with your friends.
 
– You’re using such good manners at the dinner table.
 
– You’re such a kind friend for sharing your toys.
 
– I like how you’re using your imagination.
 
-Wow! You’re so strong when you climb those monkey bars.
 
– It was very responsible of you to put your shoes away.
 
– You’re such a thoughtful young lady.
 
– I like how you got dressed all by yourself. (Even if she’s wearing plaid with stripes!)
 
Will I stop telling her she’s adorable and pretty and stop brushing her hair? No. But I don’t want to reward her for her good looks. Life shouldn’t be a beauty pageant. So what if she goes to school in mismatched clothes? Really, what’s the big deal?
 
Don’t worry, I will continue to teach my daughter good hygiene (I don’t want her to be the smelly kid in school!), but I vow to place much less emphasis on her looks. The important thing is that she’s developing into a confident young lady with healthy self-esteem, and is a kind human being.
 
What do you think?
 
 
loyally,
katie
 
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All That Candy!

What will you do with the bazillion pounds of candy your child(ren) will accumulate over Halloween?
 
Will you let them eat endlessly from their plastic jack-o-lantern throughout the night? Or will you deprive limit them to a few pieces every day for several days, then hope they forget about all the rest?
 
When I was growing up I don’t ever remember any limitations put on my “gold,” so I asked my mom for verification. She said she was not as strict as I am with candy now that I’m a mom, and to quote: “Your dad ate most of it.” Ha!
 
Trick-or-treating with friends was always a blast! After running wild through the neighborhood, we would dump our bags on the living room floor to see what we ended up with. I always separated my candy by brand: Milky Way, Whoppers (my childhood favorite), 3 Muskateer, Now and Later… and the candy I didn’t like, which I left up-for-grabs. My friends and I would spend several minutes trading candy for our favorites, until we were satisfied with our takings.
 
Now that I’m a mother, I look at Halloween slightly differently. Now that I’m more health-conscious, I look at Halloween slightly differently.
 
The first year we took Emmalyn Trick-or-Treating she was eleven months old and didn’t know what candy was, therefore she didn’t have any. Bringing her door-to-door was really just for “show” and cute pictures. The second year, at almost two years-old, she still didn’t know what candy was because she had never had any before. The candy put in her bag may as well have just been rocks to her. She ended up having the time of her life passing out her collected candy to other trick-or-treaters the remainder of the night, and I went home happy because we didn’t have mounds of candy littering our house.
 
Last year, at nearly three years-old, I told Emmalyn she could pick out a toy at the store if she traded in her candy loot. She happily complied. I’m not sure what I would have done if she didn’t take the bargain…?
 
This year, because of the amount of birthday parties we have been to in the past year, she knows exactly what candy is, and exactly what it tastes like. I know allowing her to have a few pieces is unavoidable. But that’s just it–a few pieces. When we went Trick-or-Treating at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party last month, I told her she could have three pieces because she’s three years-old. I thought there might be some resistance (and possibly a tantrum), because after all, kids usually ask for “more” no matter what, but really, she forgot all about the rest of the candy and never asked for it again.
 
We are going to two Halloween parties this year, plus Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood with friends. It’s going to be a long night. And a lot of candy. I’m determined to stick to my guns about “three pieces” (I know, I know… some of you are rolling your eyes right now: Three?! That’s it?! Let kids be kids!) and then let her trade the rest in for a “prize”–something tangible she can use or play with, instead of a tummy ache.
 
So, tell me, what are your candy plans for Halloween this year?

loyally,
katie
 
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