Sharing My Sneeze

I’ve heard time and again that the first two weeks with a newborn is the most challenging. To my surprise, the past two weeks have been fine. Fun, even. Dare I say it, the past two weeks have even been blissful.

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After a pretty ideal 8+ months of pregnancy, the last few weeks were a little tough for me. I read somewhere that we as humans are much better at adjusting to life changes than we assume that we will be, but that the uncertainty of situations is what can really bring a person down. This uncertainty was throwing me for a loop. I was scared of labor, scared of being a new mom, scared of my life changing so drastically. Being a natural born worrier, I decided to peruse message boards to better prepare myself for what was to come. If there was one lesson I later learned from this, it was to never peruse message boards in order to ‘prepare’ myself for anything ever again. Horror stories are abundant. I was half expecting to have a 72 hour labor, a baby who cried for 12 hours daily and to never leave the house or sleep or eat or exercise or shower or brush my teeth ever again. I would be a stinky, sleep-deprived, emotional mess and also my husband would probably hate me.

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So it came as a pleasant surprise when I had an extremely fast and mostly pain-free labor (The epidural is my new soul mate), a mellow and very sleepy baby, and a husband and extended support system so wonderful that getting some ‘me time’ has not once been an issue. I’ve read a whole book (One for grown-ups!) since Bryn was born. I take long walks with that beautiful and happy baby of mine every night. Robby and I take shifts at night, so we both end up getting at least five hours of sleep, though I usually end up with closer to seven. I don’t exactly consider this sleep deprivation. I have upcoming races and photo-shoots and media events and other adventures planned, just like I always have. Heck, I even took two showers yesterday. (Those long walks do make me stinky.)

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But it’s so much more than just having unexpected down time. I have never felt so inspired, nor has my life and heart felt so full. I definitely felt inspiration and a fullness of life before, but now it seems my world is overflowing with the stuff. Bryn has brought more joy and magic to my life than I even knew was possible. That I could help create someone so absolutely perfect is amazing to me. I feel the need to skip and dance and write cheesy poetry, just because she exists. How come these mommy message boards don’t focus on all of these warm fuzzies and long cuddles and the desire to kiss someone’s soft little cheeks all day long?

I’m also really proud. I’m proud of my daughter, and how quickly she’s adjusted from womb to world. I’m proud of my husband and I for figuring out this parenting thing together, and for being patient and kind to one another as we learn. I’m proud of my body and what it’s capable of. Sure, it’s nice being 5 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. But much more than that, I am amazed at its ability to bounce back after labor. After delivering an eight-pound baby, I truly feel that I can do anything. Nobody told me how empowering giving birth would be.

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Best of all, I feel like I’m falling in love all over again. With my daughter, and also with my husband in his new role as the daddy of our girl. Robby’s mom was in town for a couple of days, so two nights ago we went on our first date night since Bryn was born. We laughed and flirted and had long conversations about Star Wars and how weird and unintentionally incestuous it was that Luke Skywalker kissed his sister twice. I felt giddy and silly and almost like a teenager again. Can you have a crush on your husband? Because if you can, I totally do.

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Shortly after bringing Brynlee home, we heard her sneeze for the first time. I had always assumed that sneezing patterns were learned and not inherited, but after hearing hers for the first time, I knew this assumption was wrong even before researching it. Picture Minnie Mouse or a bunny rabbit quickly coughing five times in a row, and that is probably the closest thing to my sneeze. I often get amused comments on it, as it’s this weird trait about me that has always been very uniquely Christina. But now it’s not. Miss Brynlee sneezes just like me. I gave her my sneeze, and that makes me so incredibly happy.

I don’t write this post to brag about having the world’s best baby or husband or life. I have been so blessed, but I know Miss Bryn will have her good days and bad, just like we all do. I write this because I want to remember all of this joy, and all of the other new feelings that accompanied the beginning of Brynlee’s life. I write this because I would have loved to find something like this while Googling when I was pregnant. I write this because I wish someone would have told me that it was possible for my uncertainty to turn into such an indescribable glee. Of course I know that there will eventually be challenging moments along with the blissful ones. All of the most beautiful things in life are this way. But how could I not be on top of the world, being able to love and hold and look into the eyes of this little person who shares my sneeze?

25 Things I’m Glad I Did Before Turning 25

In light of my recently hitting the quarter-century mark, I thought I’d make a post dedicated to twenty-five of the things I’m happy to have had the chance to do before turning 25. The hardest part about writing this post was compressing the list to only twenty-five things, which I suppose is a pretty great complaint to have. I just feel so blessed to have been able to live as big and fully as I have thus far, and I absolutely can’t wait to find out what’s next. Since most of this list was completed in the past five years, I’m also giddy to see what accomplishments can be made and adventures shall be had before reaching thirty years of age. But for now, I’m pretty proud to be where I’m at and to have done what I have with my first twenty-five. So without further ado and in no particular order (Prego brain ain’t got time for that), here’s 25 things I’m so glad to have done before 25:

1. Hosted my own on-campus radio show

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2. Bungee Jumped

3. Parasailed

4. Crowd-surfed

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5. Tied the knot with my very favorite person, adventure buddy and partner-in-crime.

6.  Volunteered frequently

7.  Became a home-owner

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8. Met Willie Nelson. And Chandler Riggs. (aka Carl of “The Walking Dead”) And the former White Power Ranger.

9. Went Fly-Boarding

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10. Ziplined

11. Ran a half marathon

12. Filmed a commercial for a name brand company

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13. Had that same company (U By Kotex) fly me first class to Detroit, where I would have some of the most incredibly surreal times of my life while also filming for a piece shown at concerts all over the US

14. Swam at a nude lake. Nude.

15. Drank Coronas in Mexico

16. Strolled the beaches of Puerto Rico

17. Saw the view from the top of the Eiffel Towervenice2

18. Viewed Italy from a romantic gondola ride in Venice

19. Ran a race for a good cause–In my underwear.

20. Self-published a short story

21. Wrote an article that was published in my local newspapergradday

22. Interned for the American Red Cross

23. Graduated college Cum Laude

24. Fell in love with my job as a social media representative

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25. Made a baby–when I was ready.

It blows my mind that my mom had a seven-year-old (me!) and a four-year-old at the age I’ll be having my first. The older I get, the more grateful I am for all of the sacrifices my parents made to give me the opportunity to live such a beautiful and wonderful life. And now I can’t wait to continue living that life with my own little lady and that sweet dude of mine by my side.

Where The Magic Happens

I often felt, during my first eighteen years of existence, that my life was on pause. I was very sheltered, painfully awkward, completely inexperienced. I look through my teenage journal entries and I can see that I was practically begging the universe to let life happen to me. Talk about getting what you ask for. For the past few years, my life has been a consistent whirlwind of adventures, accomplishments and life experiences. The whirlwind has definitely not stopped as of late. My world has recently been completely consumed by drastic life changes. Within the past few months and one after another, I’ve graduated college, started working my first ‘big girl’ job and found out that I’m a mother-to-be. I’d be lying if I said that having these huge, life-altering things happening so close together hasn’t been stressful at times. Because it definitely has. It’s been stressful and it’s been a little scary too. Luckily, these past few years, I have been no stranger to this stress and fear-facing stuff. I think that this is how it usually should be. That there isn’t much inspiration to be found in the way of stagnancy. That the beauty and wonder of life is often discovered in the scary, stressful stuff. That the great unknown is where the most growth can be sought out. That being a bit terrified and overwhelmed isn’t so bad. That this is, in fact, where the magic usually happens. Yes, there are days where pregnancy hormones are bountiful and I cry for no apparent reason and my husband is left holding the emotional mess of a woman who was once his anti-tears wife. But more often that that, I’ll have these moments where I just feel overtaken by an overwhelming sense of happiness. Where I am completely taken away by how blessed I am. Being overwhelmingly happy and also a little paranoid by nature is an interesting combination. I sometimes wonder if there’s a happiness quota. The past couple of years have been the most joy-filled of my life. I’ve gotten to this place where I just really like my life. My husband. Our home. Our dogs. Our bun in the oven. My car. My books. My job. My friends and family. My hobbies and passions and travels. My goals and the rate at which I am able to fulfill them. I like all of these things a whole bunch. Heck, I even like me most of the time. And so I really hope that there isn’t a quota on this happiness thing. That I don’t use all of my happy up anytime soon. That I can just go on being happy for as long as I so choose to be. I’m thinking that if I can continue to find the good through the uncertainty and the beautiful through the scary, that I may be just fine.

Some happy things lately:

Dog-walk volunteering at my local animal shelter. Look at the face!

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Going on a mini road trip and spending time with family at Robby’s cousin’s wedding.

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Dad-in-law making fun of my above pose:

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Travel planning

Feeling baby move around in my tummy

Work buddies:

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Being listed on the company website:

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A customer I was pestering to take a picture telling her salesman I was “super cute.”

Adorable text messages from sweet friends:

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Being in the works of making a couple of things that up until recently seemed unattainable, become attainable. Tangible, practically.

It’s a happy, scary, magic-filled life indeed.

Denver in Pictures

I had such a magically perfect time in Denver, Colorado celebrating four years of marriage with my husband. I’ll let my favorite pictures (and, okay, some captions too) do the rest of the talking:

One of our first stops was the highly acclaimed Snooze for breakfast. Um, yum. We even received a complimentary cinnamon bun pancake to share. Can I say yum again? Yum.

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Denver Botanical Gardens–By far the biggest and most beautiful (I want beautifulest to be a word, darnit!) botanical garden I’ve ever been to.

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Oktoberfest– Robby and I both decided to participate in this beer/weight holding competition. We both lost, and I was the first to go in my group. I mean, those beers are HEAVY and have you guys seen my arms? They’re pretty puny, y’all. But you know, you only live once and stuff. And being a noticeable weakling was definitely worth also being able to participate in the Denver festivities with my favorite dude.

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Denver fall fest. We tried out stilts! And homemade root beer! And a kissing booth! I just love fests. :

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Pedal-boating! A new adventure for us. The weather and scenery were all kinds of breathtaking. And laughing on a pedal boat with the husband in Colorado is fast becoming a treasured memory for me.

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And after pedal-boating, sharing ice cream (from the ice cream truck!) in the park:

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Mexican food feast at Mezcal with this cutie:

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Exploring the mountains:

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(Not a bad view, eh?)

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Yoga with a view (from our hotel room!) :

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The Democrat” from the Waffle Brothers— Waffle with Nutella and marshmallow cream cheese. Enough said.

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I’m just so incredibly grateful to have shared over four years of beautiful places, new experiences and wonderful adventures with my favorite person in the entire world.

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Puerto Rico In Pictures

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I could go on and on about how stunning and awe-inspiring the island of Puerto Rico is. Really, I could ramble on for a few hours, at least. I’m smitten. But instead, I think I’ll just show y’all San Juan in pictures. Because pictures are worth thousands of my wordy words. Ahem–

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Whether it be spending the day reading at a beautiful beach, shopping or exploring the majestic forts of old San Juan, buying bargain perfume and sun hats with one of my closest gal pals, eating mouthwatering chocolate chip pancakes or sipping on sangria next to breathtaking views, slipping on algae and falling on my butt as an onlooker laughs and I do too, girly and giggly sleepover-style conversations in our adorable hotel room, getting lost in a sketchy part of town and joyously finding our way back to safety–unscathed and with the help of a few sweet folks–, drinking some of the best and strongest coffee I’ve ever tasted, or simply enjoying the daily sights, sounds and wonders that the Puerto Rican culture has to offer….It’s easy to say that I fell in love with San Juan and all of the adventures, misadventures and beauty this wonderful city brought my way.

Okay, I just couldn’t help myself. But I saved my wordy words until the end at least.

New Mexico/Arizona 2013

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My New Mexico/Arizona vacation was just as amazing and enchanting (Enchanting is one of my favorite words, and New Mexico is The Land Of Enchantment. How could I not be in love?!) as I hoped it would be. Here’s my trip favorites explained in pictures (and captions! And a video!):

Food. Oh guys, I ate so good. Banana pancakes, cheesy pesto pasta, whipped cream and chocolate covered waffles, jalapeno and pineapple pizza….I could go on. But I’m making myself hungry. So I’ll stop, I guess. :

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Las Cruces, New Mexico is known for their wineries. I am known for loving my wine. A rather perfect combination, eh?

wineeWhite Sands, New Mexico. Stunning. And so fun to play in! I asked to borrow sand sleds from young children. They obliged and then their parents offered to take pictures. In other words, I’m five at heart and folks are great.

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Ruidoso, New Mexico. Beautiful and quaint shopping area, nestled in the mountains of one of my favorite states.

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“The Thing”– Roadside attraction, gas station and museum all in one. Pretty impressive. The oddity of it all made it one of my favorite parts of the trip. It’s not everyday that I walk through a mystery door at a gas station in the middle of nowhere…. To then find myself outside the back of said gas-station looking at exhibits and following giant, painted footsteps from building to building……All whilst wondering what the heck “The Thing” could be. (I’ll save the surprise just in case you’re ever road-tripping Arizona.)

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The Rattlesnake Bridge of Tucson:

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Downtown Tucson, Arizona. And their adorable coffee shop. And yummy mimosas. And their fun wall art. Heck, I loved everything about downtown Tucson.

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The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Basically a humongous zoo, museum and playscape all in one. My kind of place, y’all.:

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Mission San Xavier Del Bac. Goosebump-inducingly gorgeous, historic church in Tucson.

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Scenic and dazzling views from the ski-lift at Mount Lemmon, Arizona 

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Making new friendly acquaintances. I just really love people. And I talk a lot. Katie told me she was half expecting me to walk out in arm-in-arm with a newly befriended person I met on my airplane ride to El Paso. She was half right. I did make a new buddy on the airplane, but she gave me her boarding ticket to look her up Facebook before making her way to the bathroom. In New Mexico, I made friends with a wine host whom we later had dinner with and two girlies at another wine tasting later that week. The owner of the store said that watching the four of us interact gave her goosebumps. I’ll definitely take that as a compliment!

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Beautiful views, everywhere we went. From Katie’s backyard all the way to our hotel room in Tucson, the mountainous scenery was absolutely breathtaking.

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More pretty views:

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Just getting to spend so much time, so many big laughs, so much 90’s-music-karaoke-filled-driving-time and so many fabulous adventures with one of my very best friends.

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To wrap things up, here’s a tiny video compilation of just a few of the good times had in New Mexico and Arizona. Caution: Do not watch if you do not want to see what “The Thing” is. Or if you have an understandable fear of white-girl dancing.

Needless to say, I had an absolutely marvelous time visiting Arizona for the first time and revisiting New Mexico with my Katiekins. (Or Katie, if we’re not doing nicknames here.) Life is pretty enchanting stuff, huh?