Feeling Strong and Stuff

The past couple of months have gone by in a haze of craziness, a little bit of stressfulness and a whole lot of happiness.

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Where to start?

In October, I ran my second half marathon and partied in a museum.

I renewed vows with my husband of five years at a cheesy little chapel in Vegas and drank pumpkin beer up in the mountains of Nevada.

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On top of my full time job, I freelanced as a social media rep for a Mexican restaurant branch and got my first (literal) taste of what it’s like to be paid to eat things and attend fun food events. At one of these events a complete stranger all but made out with my cheek and at another I watched a real life jimador harvest an agave plant. It’s all about those new experiences, y’all.

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I spent Halloween dressing my daughter up like a pumpkin and later having a fabulous time at a work friend’s place. When I asked this friend if I could bring a gal pal along to his party his response went something like, “Yes! The less gay men, the better. Well, not the less gay men, but the more other people with all of us gay men, the better.” The people in my life are the greatest.

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In November, I organized a group for and ran Race for the Cure with work buddies. I also had the opportunity to help give away a car to a very happy and deserving family. It still sometimes baffles me that I get paid to do stuff like this.

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I’m in a good place to start 2015. Professionally, I am learning and growing. Socially, I am surrounded by lovely people that I am pretty fond of. I’ve found a good balance between mommy-hood and my adventures and goals, and I feel fulfilled within all of these roles. I ran 13.1 miles after having a baby six months prior, and unlike my first half marathon, I didn’t throw up or even feel like barfing at the end. I felt awesome and strong. I’m proud of that.

I hope it isn’t too vain of me to say that I’m feeling just a little bit like superwoman this year. Because I’m feeling just a little bit like superwoman this year.

I do, again, soon.

In celebration of our upcoming five years of marriage, my husband and I will be renewing our wedding vows soon.

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This isn’t the dress I picked out, because I still feel like I need to hide that from the groom dude the second time around too.

But can I just say how fun it was trying on dresses after brunch and more than a couple of mimosas with one of my best gal pals by my side?

And how excited I am to say ‘I do’ again to the person I want to do things with for the rest of my life? (That sounded raunchier than I originally meant it to. But yes, also that.)

And how between work and friends and hobbies and husband and baby I am so busy and sleepy and ferociously in love with everything that makes up my overflowing, crazy, hectic, wonderful life?

Because, yes. All of those things.

What I Want Her To See

My baby girl is three and a half months old and already, she is becoming accustomed to her mom’s shenanigans.

When I was pregnant with her, I traveled to Puerto Rico, Colorado, Mississippi, Milan, Florence and Venice. I went indoor skydiving when she was only a bean in my tummy. I ran a handful of 5ks, covered a red carpet event, met Willie Nelson, posed for photo shoots, dived into my first post-college career and self-published a short story.

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She was with me for all of these things, and that was incredibly special to me. Now that she’s here, I still love being able to take her along on adventures with me, but I also know that she can’t come along for all of them.

She wouldn’t have been able to soar through the sky with me as I went hang-gliding, nor could she have been my plus one as I covered an Ed Sheeran performance for my event blog. She can’t really come with me to food tastings, and she can’t tag along when I attend a social media conference for work tomorrow. It wouldn’t really be appropriate for her to join in on every excursion I have with friends, and she probably wouldn’t have been nearly as amused as I was, had I brought her along to shower under a waterfall with me.

This weekend, my girlfriends and I will be road tripping it to another state, and Brynlee will be spending this time at home with her amazing daddy.

Since Bryn has been born, my whole entire world has been overflowing with joy, more joy than I ever even knew was possible. She smiles and I turn to goo. She laughs and my heart melts. I watch her with my husband and I feel as if happiness is seeping out of my ears. I made my favorite little person with the help of my very best friend. I look into her eyes and I can see that she is mine. It is the absolute best thing I’ve ever had the chance to experience.

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And yet, I still feel so capable of living my own life to its fullest. I heard recently that moms who work full time today spend more time with their kids than women who were stay-at-home moms decades ago. I find that admirable and selfless in many ways, but I also know that this isn’t the way in which I will raise Bryn. This is partly because I don’t feel that my daughter’s existence makes mine disappear. I am still here, as are my dreams, desires, loves and passions. Also partly because I have a sweet mommy who watches Baby Bryn while I’m at work and a loving husband who whole-heartedly wants to share responsibilities 50/50 with me as a parent. I am a little shocked by how rare said sharing still is in our day and age. But more than anything else, it’s because there is so much I hope my daughter will learn from watching how I try my best to live life.

I hope that she will always be open-minded and accepting, and that she’ll realize that everyone finds their happiness in different ways.

I hope she will see that marriage, despite the statistics, can work out. That actually, it can do so much more than just work out. That it can be beautiful, fulfilling and most of all, so much fun. I hope that she won’t settle when it comes to love, that she will only be with someone who is able to give her as much joy as she saw her parents give each other.

And more than anything, I hope she will see me living my life and be inspired to live her own. That she will have confidence to follow her passions, the courage to go after her biggest, craziest dreams and the desire to make a mark on her little piece of the universe. What I want her to know is that this world is hers for the taking, if only she has the eagerness to go out and take it. What I hope she notices is my hunger for life, and that this will make her appetite grow wild too. What I want her to see is me, the person who loves her more than anything, showing her how to fall in love with the life she lives.

First Mother’s Day

This past Saturday, I found myself ever so slightly perturbed with that darling husband of mine. I had been asking, make that practically begging, him to get a haircut since before Bryn was born. His head was beginning to resemble a mop. Saturday night we were going out to celebrate my first Mother’s Day, and still no haircut. I finally nearly pushed him out the door late that afternoon and told him not to come back until his hair was cut. Subtlety has never been a strong suit of mine.

He came back with not only his hair neatly cut, but a cute card and a dozen red roses. My annoyance instantly disappeared.

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But what made me smile the most was not the card or the roses or even the haircut (close second though.) What put the silliest grin on my face was checking on Bryn, napping in her swing, and doing a double take upon seeing an envelope nearly half her size resting in her lap. Written on said envelope was “Mom”, and inside my very first Mother’s Day card from Miss Bryn. How she found the time to sneak out of that swing to buy and sign such a sweet card, I still haven’t figured out. My guess is she has a pretty fantastic ghost signer.

My very first Mother’s Day as a mommy:

Date night –

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Card from in-laws that had me nearly teary –

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From dude and daughter –

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Dude and daughter –

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Y’all. MY HEART! What an incredibly blessed mommy I am.

Friends and Olive Oil and a 5k and Baby Stuff. Etc.

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s only April. 2014 has already been pretty packed with lovely things–and we’re only four months in so far. From spending over a week in Italy with my favorite dude to a Mississippi road trip with one of my closest girlfriends to 5ks and media events and all of the BABY things, this year is already turning out to be quite the eventful one. With a full summer bucket list and a little girl due in just TWO weeks now, it seems like it’s probably going to stay that like that. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To play just a little bit of catch up, here are some recent photos that put a smile on my face:

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I ran my third 5k of 2014 on the same day as my baby shower. I made sure I had time to go home and shower before the shower.

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My latest two event blogging adventures have also doubled as free date nights. Both the olive oil and cheese tasting classes were tasty, intriguing and nostalgic of our trip to Europe. Being an event blogger definitely has its perks. As does having a husband who also makes for a pretty awesome best friend and plus one.

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Gal pal dates make me giddy. Said giddiness turns my facial expressions into those of a small child.

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I love weekends at the in-law’s. Always full of laughter, coffee, yummy food and peaceful mornings spent on the front porch with a good book. And sometimes full of neat flea market finds too.

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My stomach makes a pretty comfortable pillow these days.

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Texts from my best dude friend tend to make me grin. Note that he rations my compliments.

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I recently got to pose for a maternity photo-shoot with my favorite photographer. Above is one of my favorite shots. Photo credit goes to the always awesome Andrew Stevens!

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I’m about to pop, y’all! On an unrelated note, my husband really needs a haircut.

Five Birthdays Later

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In searching for the perfect mini-vacation for my 25th birthday, I wanted something far enough out to feel like a nice retreat, but close enough to drive home if, uh, I went into labor. I am only a little over three weeks from my due date now, so things like this must be considered. I had just found a quaint and romantic bed and breakfast in San Antonio–only an hour and a half drive from Austin–when I realized something. Husband had also taken me to San Antonio for my 20th birthday. We’d been dating for about nine months at the time and had just recently gotten engaged. It was my first romantic getaway with a boy and my twenty-year-old self thought that was, like, super cool. Since then, we’ve been fortunate enough to go on many vacations and make hundreds of wonderful travel-filled memories together. Still, I look back on that first little trip of ours and can’t help but be filled with the happiest of nostalgia. Five birthdays later, it just seemed right to go back to the place where all of our incredible travel adventures together first began.

2009:

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2014:

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The Luxury. Delicious and eccentric food trailer–with a toy hippo to play with as you wait for your food! My kind of joint.:

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Boat tour of the River Walk:

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We found carnival rides at a giant flea market! This one was sort of like a knock-off ferris wheel:

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We also found this lovely concoction of a dress:

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Breakfast at The Guenther House.:

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Currently, my favorite thing to wear is sweatpants and anything else that does a decent job of stretching. I was a little bit hesitant to try the little black outfit thing for date night at nine months pregnant, but shoot. About to give birth and all, I felt pretty darn sexy in that little black get-up.

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2009:

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And five years later, he is still my very favorite partner in crime.

2014:

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Yesterday was my actual 25th birthday. Robby wrote me a note. I got permission to share.

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‘Happy birthday dearwife. I Love you so much & you are the best wife/friend/mother anyone could ask for. I know you will do just fine with labor cause you’re awesome at everything you take on & now that you’re 25 you will be able to handle it better than a 24 year old. I got you some tums so you don’t have to die. Love Robby”

I am so very lucky to have spent five birthdays with that boy.

Organizing Small Dance Parties

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Shortly after my college graduation, I started feeling just a little panicky about where to go next. It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever done the job thing before. I had worked, sometimes more than one job at a time, since I was sixteen. But what to do with this brand new college degree? From years of an on-campus radio show to event blogging to a social media internship at the American Red Cross, I felt I had done everything in my power to make a resume worthy of a career that I could be passionate about. Still, I didn’t know if that would be enough. Did anybody ever get a job related to their major anymore? Where to draw the line between settling and not being realistic? I had just started browsing admin and receptionist positions, even knowing then that jobs like these would be wrong for me and creatively stifling for my personality, when I came across an available position for a social media representative. At that point, I had gone to a couple of interviews that just didn’t feel right, and had told these companies not to consider me for a second interview. Turns out that, despite discomfort, my stubbornness doesn’t really allow me to settle. And finally, here was something that sounded so very perfect for me. The job description included things like blog-writing, social-media updating and people-interviewing. I loved to do this stuff when I wasn’t getting paid. I tried not to get my hopes up when I got an email reply and then a phone interview for the position, but was still full of butterflies when I went in for the in-person interview. My boss, who lives hours away and was just in town for the day, hired me on the spot.

Now here I am six months later, with a job that is both flexible and fun for me. I get to sleep in and more or less make my own schedule. I never have a boss breathing down my neck, but contrarily have one who gives me encouragement, freedom and guidance only when I need it. I go around taking pictures of and talking to lots of cool people. Last week, I covered my first big work event in which I was able to help raise money to make a high-school student’s dreams come true.

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Yesterday, I decided we needed a ridiculously cheesy video on our social media pages. So I put together a small dance party behind the receptionist’s desk and had a fellow employee film the fun. (Obviously, I needed to partake in said ridiculous cheese.) I somehow get paychecks for doing this sort of stuff.

I’m glad that I often decide not to be too realistic about my goals. That I waited to find a career that would do so much for me than just pay the bills. And that I am now getting paid to organize small dance parties.

Surrounded by Love. And Presents. And Cake.

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Last night my husband and I were snuggled up in bed when he suddenly and softly said, “We’re going to have a daughter.” I laughed and confirmed. “I was standing in the nursery and it all of the sudden seemed really real. In a good way.” he told me, and as tends to happen when Robby speaks, my heart melted a little.

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We’re five weeks out from my due date now and I still can’t entirely wrap my head around it all. Somewhere around five weeks from now, we’ll be holding the baby girl that we made in our arms. Babies never seemed so insanely, miraculously amazing until I took part in creating one. It blows my mind a little, knowing that I am carrying around a little lady that is not only a part of me and my family, but who is also a part of Robby, his parents, his grandparents. Generations past whom I’ve never had the chance to meet in both family lines, and my daughter is a part of them too. Despite the obvious knowledge that I am unable to asexually reproduce, it is still a little mind-boggling to realize that there is someone growing inside of me who is already so much more than just who and what I am.

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Also mind-boggling is that she’s about to be here. Little one has made this pregnancy very easy on me, which has caused most of it to fly by. I didn’t suffer from morning sickness, and I’ve been comfortable frequently traveling throughout the past 9 months. Weight gain has been pretty minimal, I haven’t had any swelling yet (I literally just knocked on wood) and the fact that I can still fit into my pre-baby clothes is saving me a lot of money. I’m still jogging daily, but considering the 5+ pounds of baby I’m currently carrying around, I am proud of myself for that one. Peeing every two seconds and heartburn from hell aside, the past months have mostly been wonderful ones. Easy pregnancy = Easy baby? I shall get back to you on that one. I knocked on wood again.

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Despite fluctuating hormones, if there is one feeling that has stayed with me the most over the months, it is how blessed I feel. I feel so very blessed. To have a husband who I am so completely smitten with, who I adore a little more as each moment fades into the next, and to know that those feelings are reciprocated. To have in-laws who go out of their way to constantly help out in whatever way that they can. To have parents who throw me a lovely baby shower, and to feel so overwhelmingly loved and spoiled by so many at said event. To even have a friend fly down for the weekend from New Mexico, just so she could be present at my baby shower. To spend that same evening with my cousin and her four-month old baby girl, and to plan out her and Brynlee’s best friendship before one of them is even born. To know that if they are anything like the two of us were and still are, that there will be countless nights of giggle, mischief-filled sleepovers, and then hysterical laughing about sleepover memories 15 years later. To have a family as close as mine, and to know how fortunate that makes me. And Brynlee too. Oh my goodness, she is one lucky little girl. To be completely surrounded by so much love and to not even know it yet. But she will. I sure do.

More baby shower pictures: (Some are from my photographer grandma’s camera and some are from my iPhone, so do forgive the different photo qualities)

Gal pals –

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Miss Katie, the sweet lady who flew from New Mexico to celebrate my growing family –

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I really loved that cake. –

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Having a little chat with my five-year-old sister –

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All of the baby things! –

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Game playing. It would appear that Robby’s mom is cheating. –

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My daddy and sister. D’aww. –

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So much cousin love. –

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She’s almost here, y’all!

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Thirty-One Years And The Passing Of ‘Team Robby.’

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Thursday my husband turned thirty-one. I feel pretty fortunate to have spent nearly six of those thirty-one years with him. When we met, Robby was newly twenty-five. He was coming out of a party phase so intense that I have heard these days referred to by his friends as the “Team Robby” days. From what I’ve been told, I met him at the ideal moment—Even party-animal, nineteen-year-old Christina would have had a hard time keeping up with this Team Robby they speak of. I like to think that I contributed to his growing up, and while I do think we were a good match, realistically I also believe that great timing played a big part. He who was never able to handle a job or relationship for more than a few months time has now been with the same company for over six years and in the same relationship for almost as long. That night we first locked eyes, at a party in a garage filled with too many Jell-O shots, he tells me now that he knew then he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. This is when the psychology portion of my degree comes out and I proceed to tell him that this is just his hindsight bias talking. (I’m such a romantic, y’all.) Though his sweet words never fail to make me swoon, it seems more plausible that we met at a time when he was just ready for more than he had ever been before. But Robby is the ‘Love at first sight’ mentality to my ‘Timing is everything’ frame of mind. I think our different life perspectives is part of what makes us such a great team today.

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(Dating, 2008)

This isn’t to say we didn’t have crazy days of our own. When we first started dating, we partied a lot. We probably drank too much. We moved in together too soon. We fought frequently. As good as we have it now, I forget that it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies with the two of us. I once threw an ironing board at his head. Looking back, it’s amazing to me that we made it past those very early days. Even more incredible that fighting is now such a rarity, and most definitely doesn’t include the throwing of ironing boards. (Or anything, ever, for that matter.) Being each of the other’s first very serious relationship, neither of us had the slightest idea what we were doing. Both of us made it up as we went along. And now, somehow, here we are.

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(Engaged, 2009)

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(Wedding day, 2009)

Countless adventures, travels, parties and shared life experiences later. In the living room. As I blog, Robby is working on his aquarium, which was recently moved out of his former office to make room for baby. I’m more than 30 weeks pregnant now, and little lady is quite the active thing–Currently one of her favorite pastimes is kicking my ribs. Or bladder. Judging by the strength of said kicks, I have a feeling she’s going to have more of the Boudreaux thighs and less of the Cirotto chicken legs. We had a detailed ultrasound this past Monday in which we were able to see her adorable face and find out that she weighs approximately 3 pounds, 6 ounces. I find it both crazy and fascinating that I am carrying around almost three and a half pounds of a mini Robby-Christina. The doctor said she was gorgeous and perfect and that we were the easiest ultrasound he’d had all day. He may say this to all of his patients, but beaming parents that we are, both of us ate it up.

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(Honeymoon-Cancun, Mexico-2009)

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(‘Babymoon’-Venice, Italy- 2014)

Team Robby was years ago replaced with a dude who would rather stay up late to tackle projects around the house, the guy who now cheerfully works overtime and comes home for cuddles-on-the-couch time, the fellow who can melt my heart simply by smiling at me or by loudly speaking to my stomach, “HELLO BRYNLEE!”, the father-to-be who gave up drinking in support of (and much less mournfully than) his expecting wife.

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(Today)

Who can really know for sure? Maybe it was a meant-to-be-love-at-first-sight sort of deal that late May night, years ago. Or maybe it was a mix of instant attraction and perfect timing. I guess it doesn’t really matter. Because here we are. Coming home from a picnic in the park on a beautiful February afternoon. Getting very close to meeting the small fry in my stomach. Preparing to bring a new life into the world as we celebrate the thirty-first year of the best dude I’ve ever had the chance to know. He totally never deserved to have an ironing board thrown at his face. (I missed, if you’re wondering.)