Happy, happy birthday!

Last week (almost two weeks ago, man), we celebrated Rebecca’s first birthday with my in-laws. She got some fun toys, a couple adorable outfits and a cute towel set (which is doubly good, since she’s never had any towels of “her own.” Poor deprived kid.).

We had angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. She ate almost her entire piece!

july-2009-063

(That’s my hand at the bottom telling Hayden expressly not to blow out the candle. Not that I thought Rebecca would/could, but man, give her a chance! Going through the ~125 photos on the camera to find this one, though, I found enough pictures by Hayden to complete his photographic introspective, The World from Waist-Level.)

July was a crazy-busy month for us. My family was in town for a family reunion and extended visit, and then we rushed down for another family reunion. (10+ hours in the car each way. Have I ever mentioned that the kids don’t sleep in the car for more than 45 minutes a day?) I hope things will get more normal for us now, but as much as I like the new-found quiet, it’s sometimes a little empty.

What are your favorite parts of your family visits? Least favorite?

Travelogy

Well, we’re finally home after three weeks of being on the road. It’s so nice to be in my own bed again—I hope Hayden thinks so, too! And of course, it’s wonderful to be with Ryan again!

Here’s what we’ve been up to the last few weeks:

  • Ryan’s brother’s wedding in Louisville. Very fun, very event-filled. My parents & youngest sister drove out to visit with us (and help wrangle Hayden during the ceremony).
  • 10-hour car trek with an almost-18-month-old from Louisville to my parents’ house in North Carolina. Surprisingly, Hayden did very well on the car ride. He even fell asleep twice in the car (he hardly ever does that).
  • The museum we always went to when I was little. Hayden liked playing in one of the space ships—it had buttons that he could push. He also liked playing in the small children’s play area, but by the time we’d seen the baby bears playing, he was waaay ready to be home.
  • The lake we always went to when I was little. Mom said my first trip was when I was about Hayden’s age. I loved it. Hayden, not so much. We bought him a little floaty, but he was too scared to stay in it. However, by the time we left that night, he was completely fearless—and very frustrated when mean ol’ Mom wouldn’t put him down in water that was up to her chest.
  • Hayden on the carousel

  • The carousel at the mall. Hayden liked it for the first few turns—he even held on all by himself at his peak (and we even got a picture!)—but after that, he was too upset to even go near one of the horses. Much more interested in the gate around the carousel. But we did get him some cute flip flops.
  • Lots of family time. We had “casual” and “formal” family times—a big family dinner to just visiting and hanging out.
  • Sickness after sickness after sickness. Between Hayden and me, we had to go to Urgent Care three times and get four different prescriptions—in three days. Hayden had a double ear infection, then either a bad reaction to the infection or the medicine. The doctor didn’t know what was wrong with me, but gave me medicine anyway.

It was great to see my family and spend time with them—but I’m glad to be home with Ryan!

High adventure for my every day life

I was worried when I married my husband. He was the camping-in-a-snow-cave, interested-in-sky-diving, drive-to-Vegas-for-New-Year’s, sit-in-The-Price-Is-Right-studio-audience type. I was so very not. I was afraid that life with me would be too boring for him. He’s not an adrenaline junkie, but I’m a why-leave-the-house?-I-would-have-to-get-dressed kind of girl. A would-you-call-for-pizza?-I’m-too-shy-to-talk-to-the-pizza-guy kind of girl. Lucky for me, my husband knew that and was okay with that—even with the I-like-everything-about-camping-except-the-whole-”outside”-part girl that I am.

Also lucky for me, after the birth of our son, I was able to work from home. The extra income was nice, and so was the fact that I didn’t have to get dressed, leave the house or overcome my extreme shyness to talk to new people.

With that in mind, I have no idea what came over me that Friday in June. I was reminded left and right that a conference—possibly the most important event of the year in my industry—was only two days away. And I wanted, desperately, to go. I’d planned on buying a conference pass, but a combination of shyness, a reluctance to leave my toddler and frugality won out.

And then my boss announced he had come across an extra pass. It would be free to someone who could go. I was the first to volunteer, but as an employee, I didn’t feel quite right about taking the prize. My boss said he’d wait to see the other responses.

By 9 PM, he informed me that I deserved the conference pass. I now had less than 48 hours to make my travel arrangements, pack and finish all the incidental chores that always pop up before a big trip.

Less than two days later, I stood in line at the table to write my name badge for the opening reception. I, the can’t-we-just-email-and-text-message? girl that I am, was terrified. I’d promised myself and prepped myself to play the outgoing version of me while on this trip. A thousand miles from home, a stranger in a strange land, my first event in the industry—why not pick a new persona?

I got as far as the door before I was practically in tears. I desperately wanted not to cry. I hung around the entrance for a long time, anxiously glancing in at the crowd milling and the band playing. I took a deep breath and then another and forced myself to circulate through the party. I saw three people whom I’d never dreamed of meeting, but the idea of actually talking to them brought on another wave of panic.

I did the only thing that a I-would-go-to-the-party-but-then-I’d-have-to-socialize girl could do: I retreated to the entrance and called my husband. Mostly, it was to repeat to myself aloud the mantra I’d clung to for two days: “I deserve it. My boss said I deserve it. He’s an expert in the industry. He said I deserve to be here.”

Finding no more courage than I had before, I quickly headed back toward the registration table. Besides, I told myself, I needed to add the name of my company to my name tag. I was replacing the name tag when I looked up and saw the very celebrity that my husband had told me to introduce myself to standing just a few feet away. Looking at me. And talking. To. Me.

“I feel like I recognize you,” he said. “Where do I know you from?”

Less than two days later, I stood alone in downtown Seattle, waiting for the bus to the airport. In the intervening hours, I’d met my boss for the first time, taken extensive notes, witnessed a product preview (and let many other people think their premiere hours later was exclusive), and actually gone to two more parties. Yeah, me, the I’m-WAY-too-shy-to-socialize-but-I’ll-say-that-I’ll-go-so-you’ll-stop-telling-me-how-cool-it-will-be girl that I am, went to not one but two more parties.

I had navigated downtown Seattle on foot with confidence (though perhaps not always with accuracy). I had met nearly everyone I’d never dared to dream I’d meet. I was a lone woman in an unfamiliar city, and I’d taken charge and overcome my fears and proven to myself and the world that I was truly a professional in the industry.

I had realized when I confidently strode through the airport upon arriving, that this was a big deal for me. At the end of the trip, I called my husband once again.

I, the copious-note-taking-professional-blogging woman, the I’m-here-on-business woman, the empowered-confident-in-control-seasoned-(but-still-too-shy-to-call-a-cab) traveler I now was, told my husband, “This is the most intrepid thing I’ve ever done.”

And I can’t wait to do it again.

I have returned!

I’m back home now! Got in at 4 AM (oy!). A bit of an adventure getting back—there was some concern that I might not have a seat on the second leg of my trip (thanks a ton for canceling my reservation, airline). (And thanks a ton for getting me on the plane anyway.)

Hayden is normally pretty excited to see anyone who comes to get him out of bed in the morning or after a nap. As in squealing, running across his crib, or being so overexcited that he can hardly move.

I had Ryan get him up and bring him in to me (still in bed) as a surprise. When I pulled the sheet off my face, I was expecting ecstatic squeals, back arching and frantic attempts to get out of his dad’s arms.

Instead, Hayden slowly smiled and leaned down for me. Ryan handed him over and I laid Hayden on my chest. He wrapped his arms around my neck and laid his head on my shoulder, stroking my arm. He didn’t say much, but laid there for a couple minutes.

And then he was over it.

He was a little frantic at nap- and bedtime, but we told him that I would be there when he woke up. By all accounts, he was very good for his caregivers while I was gone, but he was very clingy with Marty, his monkey. I didn’t notice him being overly clingy with it today. I anticipate that he’ll take a few days to recover emotionally. It’s good to have my boys back, although it’s really weird to go from hobnobbing with the “searcherati” (ie lots of the top minds in my industry) to playing with a toddler all day long.

Ask and ye shall receive

Friday morning I was suddenly reminded that the event of the year for my industry, Search Marketing Expo Advanced (SMX), was impending. I’d wanted to buy tickets long before, but frugality, homebodiness and an insatiable need to be with my son won out. Tickets were sold out now, plus I’d have to travel to Seattle.

I lamented my case to my husband, who recommended that I e-mail my boss, Andy, to see if he had any extra passes. I demured. And that afternoon, Andy posted on the blog—he had come across an extra pass. Did any readers want it? I said I did, but so did a couple other readers, who wouldn’t have to travel.

Andy decided I deserved it (how deeply flattering!). And now I’m in Seattle.

Saturday I’d convinced myself that I deserved/needed/would enjoy some time away from Hayden. Not that I don’t love him, of course (I know you understand). But ever since he was born, I realized that motherhood was the one job I’d never be able to take a vacation from, no matter how burned out I got.

And here I am on vacation (ish).

So, we shall see how my son and I hold up apart. A huge thank you to my friends who are watching him today and tomorrow. I’ll be home very early Wednesday morning, and back into motherhood.

But today, I’m playing the part of the experienced professional. Oh, and I’m also pretending to be outgoing and friendly, which is a lot harder in person than it is online and in print. (Luckily, an opening social last night broke the ice, so I should be okay. I hope.)

Blogging may be a bit light until Thursday, but I’ll try to get a couple posts in.

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