That Yak Life

I may be 33+ weeks pregnant with a history of ultra healthy but premature birth, but you hand me a paddle on a gorgeous day and I'm plopping in that kayak faster than you can say, "water birth".
(well, maybe not that fast, considering I resemble a weeble at the moment...but you get the point.)

I credit my love for the river life to my better half, just don't tell him I told you so.
I grew up terrified of boats and open water. I still get nervous on the ocean and prefer to stay on the shore for the most part. Rivers are different, though. The Monocacy, in particular, is very different. It's muddy brown, shallow and therefore a little foul smelling. But after a day or so of rain, it's a lazy river perfect for floating along enjoying the sun and taking in all the wildlife. It's my favorite way to slow down and breathe. I don't kayak to race, exercise (although it is a great way to tone your arms and abs) or fight any white waters. I prefer to take my time and forget that cars, factories, power lines and paved roads even exist.

We recently bought two new kayaks and couldn't wait to break them in. Jaxon rides with Josh and I get to maneuver around my own internal passenger. Jaxon is learning to really love it too. He's been taking trips on the river with us since he was a little over a month old, starting in his carrier in the canoe and now has adjusted to the balancing act of kayaking. He loves when we hit stronger currents and bump into rocks.
He's gonna be a coaster boy, for sure.

 (I was in the middle of eating a granola bar....just to explain my momentary lack of enthusiasm in this photo that Josh so thoughtfully took..)

Last Saturday we had what I consider the perfect kayak trip. It took place later in the afternoon, when the hot sun was on its way down, it didn't get dark until well after we pulled and packed the kayaks back up, and the trip itself wasn't too short and disappointing or too long and exhausting. We saw some wild animals, avoided most of the bugs, didn't get stuck in shallow spots and even found a lost blue ball that we passed back and forth along the way.

I'm hoping I get at least one more good trip in before this little maniac arrives. With how much I'm on my feet at work, plus the stresses that go along with it, in addition to my home projects, car issues, baby preparations and still trying to get this blog thing going....
Only two things fully help me de-stress and manage my anxiety and discomfort.
1. Crochet
2. Kayaking

Reading good comics and petting cats doesn't hurt either, though.
My next goal is to get the equipment necessary to make my Nikon water proof so I can start dipping my toes back into my nature photography. I miss it desperately and it goes hand in hand with that 'yak life.


Prepared or Not

I'm so ready to meet this hooligan growing inside me.

Actually, if I'm being brutally honest, as much as I'm ready to be DONE feeling tight, heavy and all around uncomfortable....I'm also dreading the whole birthing experience again and I am so NOT ready for this baby.

I mean, we have a pack-n-play with all the infant accessories, but no crib, and at this very moment Jaxon is currently sleeping in it because he's been struggling to stay put in his "big boy" bed lately....
We have a ton of toys, bathing/baby skin supplies, a few bouncers and walkers, all my breast feeding supplies and plenty of blankets. However, most of it is still at my parent's house waiting for us to somehow find room for all of it here.

But hey, at least we're set in the clothing department.

You know, the one thing no expectant parent really wants or needs (because they either covered it all themselves as soon as they knew, or they kept everything from the last one, like we did), but the thing that everyone wants to buy.
Even if you specifically tell each and every one who asks, and even put it on the baby shower invitations, that you want anything but clothing.
Even if you figure you can just return things and try to make the most of any credit you get for them.
Even if you tell your relatives, friends and coworkers exact products, brand names and pictures of said products that you need.
They will still buy you clothing.

Some are cute, but most of them will get packed away until the next yard sale.

Hey, call me ungrateful or selfish. I'm way too pregnant and stubborn to care.
I'm also 100% positive that I am not the only one who's familiar with this fact of life.

But enough of my cynical whining.

(Yeah, I may favor stripes, animals and skulls...but it's still better than trucks, baseballs, all monkeys and teddy bears...in my opinion.)
Today I washed and went through each and every box and bag of clothing we've accumulated to not only filter out what we'll be selling in our upcoming yard sale, but to attempt to prepare Roran's portion of my infamous hospital bag. It wasn't hard to sort out what I knew he'd never wear, but it was a bit more difficult to narrow down what to take for his arrival. I started by grabbing all the tiniest things. All the preemie and newborn onesies, sleepers, socks, hats and bibs. Then I added a very select few bigger newborn pieces just in case he somehow comes out bigger than expected.

I swear I was bigger than this when I was pregnant with Jaxon. My belly button stretched and flattened and blended into the rest of my skin rather quickly last time around. This time, at 33 weeks, you can still see a little button bump through all my shirts. I actually hate seeing it, but that's another issue. My point is, I feel like he's much smaller than Jaxon was. I mean, trust me, I feel huge, but as far as baby bump goes, I was expecting to be bigger at this point than I am.

But I could also just be remembering my last one incorrectly too. That has happened before.
Regardless, I'm preparing for a teeny weeny, just in case.

Oh and another side note, I am two weeks away from when Jaxon was born, term wise. Fingers crossed, prayers lifted, positive vibes collected that this kiddo hangs out there a bit longer than his older brother did. I still believe Jax came when he was ready to, despite my unfortunate unexpected 10+ hour double that day, but it wouldn't have hurt him to hold on a wee bit longer.

(Yeah, he Tommy Pickles it a lot...don't worry, he wears pants out of the house lol)
Jaxon loves having his picture taken. He also takes direction fairly well, too, for a two year old. The big brother shirt was purely circumstantial, but ended up being the perfect touch to these photos that started as me just recording a small selection of some of my favorite pieces, new and old.
It makes it look like he can't wait to be a big brother, when in reality every time I ask him about having a little brother, he immediately says, "No."
He loves my baby belly though, so I really have no idea what he comprehends about all this or not.

He'll hate him at first, then be his best friend and guardian.
That's what I keep telling myself anyway.

Now to finish my checklist and attempt to keep plugging away at preparations....


This One Will Do

It's pretty sad that that picture is the most recent photo of us together. It's like 4-5 months old.
It's sad because this post is supposed to be mainly about us.

Now, don't worry, this may turn into a 'brag post' but I promise it isn't intended to be a secret revealing, way too open and honest one. Just a quick appreciation and reflection post. At least that's my goal, anyway.

I met Josh while working as a server at Ruby Tuesday. I was closing that night and had been there for a good 5 hours already. He came in with his then roommate for a drink at the bar. Long story short, we had a mutual friend in the bartender also working that night that all but set us up, at least to the point of him offering to take me to see a movie and giving me his number. The bartender talked him up to me in the kitchen and talked me up to Josh at the bar the entire rest of the night. 4 days later, I finally text him back and after my shift, he picked me up in his beat up Malibu, after handing me a dozen freaking red roses at the door, and took me to see Iron Man 3.

I could go into more detail about my current state of mind, my past relationship failures and the fact that this date was the FIRST legit date I had ever been on (you know, where the guy picks you up, gives you flowers and pays for everything), but I don't want to drag this out and again, I'm trying to reflect but also focus on us now.

We had only been an official item for 3 months when I discovered I was pregnant with Jaxon.
This was not how I intended my life to go, I'll just put it that way.

I tried breaking up with him immediately. I told him I didn't want to be his "ball and chain" and force him to stick around with someone just because he knocked her up. He got mad, drove off and I cried. An hour later, I heard a knock at my door. Standing in the doorway, tear stained eyes and shaking hands, was Josh. He scooped me up, took me outside and told me there was no way I was getting rid of him. Thank God he was right.

I've seen pregnancy and babies destroy shaky relationships. I've seen hollow marriages and unsatisfied people because of pressure to "stay together for the kids". I've seen them ultimately implode and drag those poor children through all the crap, wondering what they did to cause it, the whole way.  We refused to end up that way. We decided to take everything one day at a time with one common goal and one common anchor- that we both loved and wanted the best for this baby, whether we ended up together "forever" or not.

Somehow, by some miracle or two, despite many hard times, arguments, break downs, terrifying anxiety attacks combined with unfamiliar hormone fluctuations and all the other side effects of pregnancy.....

we made it.

We're still going strong. We're still besties. We're still (somewhat) sane.
Not saying life is perfect or without its struggles, by any means. Every aspect of life changes when you reproduce. Every. Single. One.

We only had 3 months of "honeymoon" bliss before our worlds rocked and collided in the most traumatizing and brutal way possible. We only have a 3 month long point of reference when reflecting on how life used to be before Jaxon.
I've been pregnant most of our now 3 year relationship.

What does that mean? I have no clue.

All I know is despite article after article and study after study about how marriages and relationships are majorly effected by having kids, how the "satisfaction" levels drop a ton and how much the changes and sacrifices strain both mom and dad in different ways, how chances of divorce increase, especially after the kids leave the nest, how miserable it makes the family dynamic when they were "forced" to marry quickly....
We're still coming out on top.

I'm not saying there's been absolutely no strain or change in our relationship. Of course there's plenty to complain and stress about. No one is immune, sorry.
What I'm saying is whatever we are doing (or not doing maybe), is working out for us so far.
He's still here with me. He still tells me he loves me multiple times a day. We're still okay sharing things and living together. We still have the same things in common and don't take ourselves too seriously. We still joke and snuggle up to each other and plan dates. 
Maybe it's our personalities, maybe it's how we were raised.
All I know is we're still growing. Growing individually and growing together.  We learn new things every day about love, life and parenthood.  It's a crazy emotional adventure and I am so glad I'm on it with Josh.

I mean, how anyone could put up with me through two pregnancies, anxiety struggles, super social awkward weirdness, guilt from my childhood and recovery from a past containing self mutilation and attempted suicide.....is a miracle in itself.

He was my one last hope in the dude department and he keeps nailing it. He's loyal, faithful, brutally honest and doesn't take my shit (not all the time ha). He was the first to show me how dating and a healthy relationship could and should be. I never felt like I had to "fix" him or "fight" for him. When he's unhappy, he tells me. When he knows I'm unhappy, he doesn't let me rest until I level with him.

He thinks he's Jesus and watches too much TV at night, but he also helps me with my hair and guides me as best he can through adulthood without making me feel like a complete idiot (most of the time, anyway).

I mean, I'm loyal, honest, weird and way less psycho than his past exes, plus I have a cute butt, good metabolism and I have been domesticated just enough to help our household function...
so I'm not the only "blessed" one here ;)

Bottom line is I'm happy with what we have and where we're going and since it hasn't changed since day one, I'm hoping it doesn't ever have to. We made it through (almost) two pregnancies and several moves and job changes, so I certainly hope it has no reason not to continue.

I mean, I still don't have a ring....

But I know it's coming, so I'll survive for now.
This guy will do.



You were my first prince. My peace keeper and best friend during my darkest times when no one else could understand. You comforted me every time I cried, even during movies. You followed me everywhere and would use your long tail as a reassuring arm around me anytime you'd sit next to me. You looked at me with all the love, adoration and unconditional trust I never thought I deserved. You were my constant. My calm in every storm. I understood you differently than everyone else and you knew me better than I knew myself.

I knew you were ready to say goodbye and in my denial, I never got the chance to let you. For that I will forever be regretful and truly sorry. I wish more than anything for a chance to go back and give you a real goodbye.

I know you were withering but you never stopped being your calm, comforting and empathetic self. Your body failed you but you never stopped doing what you loved and you never stopped loving.

I feel lost knowing I will never be able to scratch your chin or coax you out of the bathroom after you convince me to turn on the dripping faucet for you. I will never again feel the gentle bump of your frail body against my legs as you greet me. I will never hear the sound of your distinct meow when you need the back door opened so you can nap out on the table on the back deck.

But you were my guardian angel when I needed you most and I will always be thankful and grateful for one of the most beautiful gifts I would ever be given.
You, Samson.
Pretty Boy.

Rest now, my prince. You deserve the peace you always brought to me. Nothing could ever make me forget you or stop loving you.
Thank you. Thank you.

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡


Go Mama Go! Smoothie

The ultimate breakfast/anytime smoothie!
In honor of Mother's Day, I've dubbed it my "Go Mama Go!" Smoothie.

Smoothies are super customizable and exact measurements are pointless so go with what looks good ;)

(I never measure anything, so don't feel like you have to, these are guestimates)

Go Mama Go! Smoothie

  • 1 cup mixed berries (blueberries & strawberries are great)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 small container of your favorite dairy free yogurt (I used peach but any fruit flavor or vanilla work)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup passion fruit nectar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp (I just use my fingers lol) Chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp (another pinch) flax seed

*if you don't have flax seed AND Chia seed, just use double of what you do have

**if you want it to be more "breakfast-y" or don't have either seeds, you can sub steel cut or plain oats.

This smoothie gives my fellow mamas everything they need to start the day and keep up with those crazy little monsters, and is great for mamas to be (and baby) too! Plus it tastes like a milkshake but won't weigh you down like regular dairy shakes do!!

♡ ♡ ♡


Two Years Going On...

No, that isn't a picture of the new baby. Roran, thankfully, has a couple months to go yet.
Nope, that's Jaxon when he was less than 2 months old.
He was so photogenic. Though I'm sure most newborns are.

I haven't looked through his baby photos in a very long time, but since he'll officially be TWO years old tomorrow, I figured it's time to yank on my already fragile heartstrings and reflect on two of the craziest, hardest, most amazing years of my life.

On May 3rd, 2014, I got off work at about 9pm after working a double, something I hadn't done in months because, well, pregnancy. It wasn't a planned thing, I offered to fill in for someone since I was already there and knew they needed my help because it was a Saturday night. I served over lunch but stayed to host for dinner. I figured I'd pull up a chair and run the computer while the other host walked guests to their tables. I had 5 weeks left to go so I figured, no big deal, right?

Well, long story short... a few short hours later [meaning literally like 3], just after midnight on May 4th, Jaxon Cain Markle made his official debut.

This little man has completely captured my heart in a way I never believed possible. Every thing he does teaches me something new. Every day I wish he'd pause the growing but also can't wait to see what he accomplishes next. It's already all gone so freaking fast I just can't believe it.

We're still working on the potty training. He's got the motions and concept down, we're just waiting for him to decide to actually put that knowledge to use. As much as I'd prefer he be out of diapers by the time we're buying diapers for this baby, I know it'll click when he's ready and he'll show off to me like he has with everything else I worried about, like walking, talking and sleeping through the night.
Just a couple days ago, we got him his very own toddler bed. He was so excited when it was finally together and he started helping us transfer all his stuffed animals from his crib to his bed. That first night was magical. He was pooped from the long day he had and couldn't wait to snuggle up on his new mattress. He slept through the entire night without a peep or a wander. That next day, he napped perfectly too. He crawled up himself and stayed there for a solid 2 hours. Like I said before, 
he likes to show off sometimes.

Too bad he's since realized he can get on and off his bed whenever he wants and until we finally get around to getting guards for the doorknobs, he's been struggling a bit since that first night. He woke up early yesterday morning and we found him in the living room asleep on the couch. He also woke up in the middle of the night last night and wandered half asleep around the house until Josh put him back to bed. Naps are the hardest part. It's harder for him to settle because he knows and can tell it's still daytime and he now has the freedom to escape whenever he wants instead of being forced by a crib to relax and rest.

I knew this would be a transition and I hope it settles out by the time we're up all through the night for another reason. Fingers crossed.

Back to reminiscing, we couldn't have asked for a better first birthday for him, a year ago. We took him hiking and to a creek and let him sit in the water and splash and he absolutely loved it. Then a few days later we were blessed with the most gorgeous day to throw his birthday party outside in the perfect location.

This year, I have to work on his birthday and I have no idea if the weather will be nice or not for his party because of this bipolar spring we've been having. Luckily I know he'll have a good time anyway because he always makes the most of every situation like he has since he was born. We took him everywhere with us from the time he was a month old, from hiking to fireworks to the beach and even on a road trip to Florida and he always just rolled with it and has had the most chill and bubbly personality, for a baby/toddler. He of course has moments where he's tired and not having it, like any toddler, but he still manages to impress me and everyone we come in contact with.

He may not have all his teeth, still, but he says please, thank you, hello, goodbye, and night night as well as gives hugs to everyone and kisses to his favorite family. He may struggle with coming when he's called but if I ask him to hold my hand or throw something away or wash his hands, he rarely hesitates. He loves washing his hands and brushing his teeth and loves to share his food with others.
The only thing he's possessive of is his blanky. And we all know we all that a blanky like that.

I literally love every little thing about him and would honestly probably kill for him. He's compassionate, gentle, adventurous, fearless, sensitive and incredibly thoughtful. He laughs at the most trivial things I do like it's the funniest thing he's seen in his entire life. He isn't a snuggler or a co-sleeper, but when he does want to snuggle or give me a random hug and kiss, I take it for all it's worth and cherish every single one for as long as it lasts. He's all boy. All puddle splashing, rock throwing, dirt scraping, bug grabbing, ball throwing and prank pulling boy. I'm not saying girls don't do these things as toddlers, I'm just saying I understand there will come a time when he wants nothing to do with mom so I'm taking everything I can for as long as I can because it's already gone way to fast.

I mean, I teared up when Josh trimmed his hair for the first time because it made him look so much older and my first thought was soon he'll be getting his license and driving off to college and I just wanted to hug him and smother him in my arms forever.
Yeah, I'm gonna be one of those moms.

But can you really blame me? Just look at his face and tell me you could say no to him, ever.

I think it's hitting me harder right now too, because I know this stuff will be the last he'll experience as an only child. This is his last birthday as my only baby. These are the last days of me being entirely his mama. The last days of him being my one and only.

I'm excited for him to be a big brother. I just wish I had more energy and opportunity to really cherish every little moment so I could make it last longer. I've seen how fast things go.

Happy Birthday number 2, baby boy.
You will always be the boy that first stole mommy's heart and gave her reason to never stop fighting and trying. You will always be my hero and champion forever. Though this baby will need you as much as he'll need me, no one will ever be able to take over the permanent spot in my heart that you occupy now and forever. I am beyond proud of the little man you are growing up to be and the ray of sunshine you are on even my darkest days. Thank you for teaching me things I never realized I needed to learn. Thank you for reminding me what is important, keeping me humble, reminding me to not take everything too seriously and for saving me in more ways than one.
I hope you have a perfectly wonderful birthday, even though mommy has to leave for work just as we should be getting started. I hope you never lose your light and I pray the moments we share together don't go by too fast. I love you now and forever, Jaxon Cain.
Mommy has always loved you and will always love you.
Forever and ever.