Sunday, September 7, 2014

Addie Girl

Oh, sweet Addie Compton...  Just like the two Bruce babies before you, I took one look at you and was madly in love.  Hooked.  However many babies your mom and dad have, I will love them all like crazy.

I had a very early text from your mom yesterday that you were on your way, and just two hours later, a call from her that you were here and were already about an hour old.  You came quick, sweet pea.  Just like with your brother, she sounded like she had maybe done nothing more strenuous than going to the grocery store when I talked to her.  She was made for this.

When I walked in to see you this morning your mom - up, showered, dressed - was perched in a chair, no signs of having had a long day yesterday.  Your silly daddy was in the hospital bed. :)  You, my dear, were right at the start of all sorts of little tests in your bassinet, so I held your little hand while a nurse poked and prodded and pricked your tiny little heel for a blood test.  I instantly thought you looked more like Mac than Emerson, but no matter who you look like, you are just absolutely precious.

Yesterday when I talked to your mom on the phone and asked her to tell me about you, she told me that you were very squishy, and I agree.  I told your dad that my favorite part of you is where the bottom of your neck meets your shoulder - lots of little skin folds and still a little newborn fuzz and just soft soft soft.  Squishy. :)  Your cheeks are the best - they are Bruce cheeks and look like your daddy's and your sister's and those that your dear Poppy had.  I know he is so proud of you.

I love that you are here for so many reasons, but a lot because it means that there's a little bit more of your mom and of your dad in the world, and that is such a good thing.  Your dad is one of a kind.  He has the biggest heart and the kindest smile and has such a deep soul.  Anything that you get from him will be genuine and will be good.

Your mom is part of my heart.  She's my best friend in all the world and we are often a little bit the same person.  As if on cue today, a nurse walked in and looked at us and said "Oh, your sister is here."  We've heard it a million times and it never gets old.  If you get an ounce of her grace and patience and incredible compassion for others, you will be the dearest person in the world.  We've done life together.  I'm so glad you get to do life with her, too.  I glanced at her while she took a nap today while you took a nap with me and thought about how proud I am of her.  You will be, too.

Your sister and brother.  Oh honey.  What a family jackpot you have hit.  When anyone heard you were on the way, everyone guessed you'd be another brother.  But the second I saw the first photo of Emerson holding you, I figured out why it is that you were a sister instead.  It was for her.  She has won the lottery to have a little sister to love.  And oh you will ADORE her.  I sure do.  She has your daddy's heart and your mom's giggle and a million things of her own that make her just the best.  She has totally figured out how to get anything and everything she could ever want from me, so I'm sure she'll teach you how to do the same.  :)  And your brother?  He's the happiest kid on the planet.  I'm sure he's thrilled you're a girl so he can stay a mama's boy.  You will be the coolest girl ever because you will know EVERYTHING about every ball and big truck that you ever see.  If you learn anything from him, I can only hope it is how to be joyful always.  He's got it mastered.

I can't wait to watch you grow, precious baby girl.  I'll be here every step of the way.  But please, please, just don't do it too fast.

I love you -
Aunt Becca

Friday, August 15, 2014

Birthday Bird

A year ago today I knew that this girl was coming on that day.  Early.  She was too tiny and needed to join the world so she could get a little help growing.

I had just pulled into the bank parking lot for a quick ATM run before a baseball game with folks from work when I finally had a text from her dad.  She didn't have a name yet, but she was here.  A teeny little 3 pounds, 7 ounces, but doing okay.  I don't remember a single thing from that baseball game...

A little later, a text from her mom.  Her sweet little name was Eliza James, and they were not sure of a single thing except that they were already totally in love with her.

Her mom was one of my roommates in college.  To say we've been through it all and then back again would be an understatement.  She is one million of my memories.  We hadn't been in touch for a while for what seemed like a lot of reasons but no good reasons at all, really.  But now?  Now this baby girl was here.  And I couldn't not know her.  I couldn't.  It's just not how I was made.  She changed everything.

In December of last year I got to meet and hold her sweet little self for the first time and I was 100% hooked.  She was the smallest and most adorable thing and I cried some big ugly tears alone in my car when I left.  In February I went back to see her again.  And just two days ago I snuck up to her family's vacation house in the Virginia mountains and surprised her.  Well fine, I really went to surprise her mom. :)

This little girl is a fighter.  She's happy and healthy and the best baby ever.  She's a bitty little 14 pounds of love and healing.  She's definitely helped heal something big in me.

Happy Birthday, you precious, precious little E-Bird.  Do you have any idea how much you are loved?!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Love, Marbles, I-40 and Dave Matthews...

So, over two years ago (the official date listed is May 6, 2012), I tossed a handful of pictures into a new blog entry and never did anything else.  The intent was a Mother's Day post centered around the moms that let me love their kids and how thankful I am to all of them.  And I've thought about the post a million times, but I just could never figure out the angle I wanted to take with the writing.  Mother's Day 2012, 2013 AND 2014 came and went.  Pitiful.  But the draft always stayed put.

This weekend, it all hit.

I was in Wilmington for the long weekend for Memorial Day with Matt, Liz and their family.  We played a lot, and on Sunday we went to their church.  I barely got up in time, didn't shower (which I NEVER do), but we still made it.  

My focus tends just drift off when I'm at a new church.  I look around a lot, take it all in, and maybe, usually, admittedly, I don't pay 100% attention to the sermon.  I did this time, though.

It was the first of a three-part series about "Losing Your Marbles" - and the marbles in this message were time.  He talked about kids a lot in this one.  A whole lot.  How if you put 936 marbles in a jar when a kid is born, and throw one away every week until they turn 18, you'd physically watch time pass with the marbles in that jar.  A ton of his point is that with everything else everyone has going on, TIME is what kids want.  They want you to invest time in them. 

I thought SO MUCH about 'my kids' as he was talking.  I know so many people must think that I'm crazy. I'm 32, single, and spend the majority of my 'free time' with children.  My car might need to be washed, my laundry might need to be folded, my mail might need to be sorted, my bed ALWAYS needs to be made...but if I have an opportunity to spend that time with kids instead, that's where I'm going.  I go to what seems like millions of birthday parties and recitals and school plays.  I sit in the bleachers at baseball or basketball games or run off for an impromptu dinner or ice cream date or walk a crew to school in the mornings and give lots of hugs at classroom doors.  All of it means so much more to me than that other stuff that isn't going anywhere, anyway.

So, I invest in now.  I could worry a lot about a year from now or five years from now and, admittedly, dwell too much on being single and wondering if and when I'll ever drop my OWN kids off in those classroom doorways.  (Which I do A LOT.)  Or I could just love now.

And then, lo and behold, I listened to some OLD Dave Matthews driving home from Wilmington.  CDs that I have heard 3 million times and haven't listened to in years.  And there, in a song I know by heart, was a lyric I've never paid attention to, and it was like I was supposed to hear it in the midst of thinking about all of this...  "The future is no place to place your better days".

Live in the now.  Don't worry about if tomorrow or next year or five years from now is going to be 'better'.  What does better even mean, anyway?  Lose your marbles with purpose, not just for the sake of losing them and moving on to the next thing.

And then, I mentally envisioned 20 jars of marbles for the 20 babies that have been really truly been 'mine' since they were babies.  So many kids mean so much to me, but oh, these are just the ones that live in my heart and have since before they knew any different (or really had any choice, bless their hearts).  And I choked up at the thought of how few marbles would be left in so many of those jars.  I even felt a little pinch for all of the marbles left in baby Matty's jar, and he's only 6 months old.

"Teach us to number our days..."

Then, then came a GIANT wave of gratefulness to the mothers that let so much of the time that those marbles represent be MY time with their children.  Eight mothers who have handed over that gift of fleeting time to ME.  Handed it over a lot.  And oh, I was SOBBING on I-40 listening to those old, scratched CDs...

Lo and behold, the photos dumped into the blog over two years ago popped into my head.

Ann Parke and Mary, Stacy and Amy, Jen and Laura, Kristin and Katie...THANK YOU for letting me invest in the yesterday and the today and the tomorrow with your children. Letting me be in the now with them so often.  I'm not sure that you'll ever understand what it has meant to me.  For all of you it might just be a chance for a night out or a weekend away or a darn grocery store trip without so many extra hands reaching for things, but I have taken every second that you have let me have your kids so seriously and I have treated that time so preciously.  

Even more than that, OH the friends that I have in all of you.  That's just a blessing upon a blessing.  Who could have ever known that I would be given these friendships with all of you?  You've let me be a part of your family and you have become part of mine.  I know I've written about that before, but I will repeat it over and over to try express what I mean.  I've cried on your shoulders, you've cried on mine, we've talked each other off of lots of ledges and celebrated many milestones together, and I could never tell you what YOU mean to me.  You've shown me motherhood and friendship in ways that I never could have imagined, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I can't imagine losing so many of my marbles with ANYONE but all of you and your amazing, beautiful families...  Thank you.  My cup TRULY runneth over.  So much love to you all.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Capture. A Year!

One year ago today, I walked through the front door of the pretty blue house you see above to start my brand new job.  I had an inkling that I'd like it.

Y'all.  I had NO idea.

You would be quite hard pressed to find anyone that loves their job like I do.  When I see family or friends or family friends, they often say to me not "how's work?" but "you love your job."  They don't ask me, they tell me.  Because they see all the fun I have through pictures on Facebook and Instagram.  Because they see me running around like a lunatic at events in town where I am 'working' but having a blast.  Because they ask my mother how I like my job and she goes on and on and on about what a great fit it is, or they ask my dad and he tells them I've found the absolute perfect job.

I've danced around (literally) with WAY too many mascots, sat on the sidelines (or on the court!) at professional sporting events, leaned both off of an interstate bridge and out of my sunroof to get the perfect photo for clients, have gotten up at ungodly hours for TV shoots, have gotten to write, have gotten to play.  I've walked through the doors of the offices of some really fun people and had some really fun people walk through the door of mine.  I've gone behind the scenes with public figures and sports stars and musicians and ballet dancers.  I've yet to have even close to the same day twice around here.

During the recent Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, I met up for just a second with some friends who had come downtown for the event, in between my trying to find a news station that was there for a story and answering phone calls from the newspaper needing questions answered for a piece they were doing.  The friends then headed to dinner and I wasn't able to join them.  When I hugged Wes goodbye, he said "Man, sorry you didn't even get to hang out and have any fun while you were down here."  I so naturally told him that I was having fun - that I have such a fun job and I love my work and I was just fine.

My camera is around my neck almost every day and that makes my heart smile.  I thought I might get to use it some, but I bring it to work with me every single day.  I've had photos show up in the craziest places and I just can't believe it.  Happy as a lark.

And OH, do we have fun within the walls of the blue house.  The people I work with are the best.  We are friends and our families are friends.  We work together all day then often meet up to play later.  We blare music (Kenny Loggins, usually) and goof off all the time and send waaaaaay too many cat photos to each other in emails and texts and we just think it's the funniest thing EVER.  They are the greatest.  Just the greatest.  They'd do anything for me and I'd do anything for them.

I am not at all clueless about how fortunate I am to have a job that I love so.  I know so many people that never have that.  I know that not everyone walks out the door of their home every day excited to get to their office.  I know that.  And I am so grateful for the opportunity.

So yes, it's been a good year.  One hell of a great year.  And I can't wait to see what else is down the road!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Come One, Come All

A few weekends ago I hit the road (gosh I've 'hit the road' a lot lately...) to head to Wilmington for a wedding.

Mark, the younger brother of my best friend from college, was getting married.

Mark is five and a half years younger than we are, and his bride, Katy, is three years younger than he is.  So it might have seemed weird that the 'college friend of the brother of the groom' would be on the guest list.

But not for the Hams.

I met Matt my second semester of college, his first, when we were paired up in the same small group in our Young Life leadership training class.  And that was all she wrote.

Matt is one of the greatest people I know about keeping up with people.  And for someone who is, well, a boy (historically you have to hunt those down to even know if they are still alive), married, the father of 3 v-e-r-y young kids, is in the middle of building a house, and is crazy busy with work, this is even more impressive.  When anyone talks to him, they are what he focuses on, and when he asks how you are doing and what is going on with you, he asks because he cares and he actually listens to your answers.  In a time where folks look at their phones instead of into your eyes during a 'conversation', this is always so nice.

I would say that he makes a great effort at being like this (which he does), but I have learned more over the years that it isn't even an effort - it's just how their whole family IS.  Matt married a girl like this when he married Liz.  His brother is like this.  His new sister-in-law is.  His parents are.

I got to Liz and Matt's house and in the complete tornado of trying to get the boys to the car, Liz still stopped and gave me a huge hug and a "It is SO good to see you" before she kept going on her tear of making sure she had everything.  (I actually think the first thing she said was "Oh Lord Jesus they's a fire" which I will remember forever.)  I walked into Mark and Katy's rehearsal dinner to take photos and enjoy the celebration, and was excitedly hugged by all of them, and then their godparents, then Liz's mom, and then their uncles, and then their cousins, and then by the sweet girl who babysat for them growing up.  In all of the 13 (good GRIEF) years that I have known the Ham family, I have felt like a member of that family.  But the thing is, I am willing to bet that EVERYONE feels that way about all of them.  When you get a "It's so good to see you" or "We're so glad you are here" from one of these people, they MEAN it.  People say this stuff all of the time because they are supposed to.  But you can just tell when someone really means it, can't you?  Can't you tell the difference between an obligatory hug and one with some genuine love behind it?

When you go to Wilmington and there is something going on with this family, you will be included.  I've been a part of wedding parties and baby showers for Matt and Liz, of course, but also of family beach weeks and family 4th of July celebrations and so much more over the years.  And at any of those things, the number of people that weren't actually related to anyone in the family was always huge.  It's how they operate.

On my drive home I thought about my drive down there - how on my way I was thinking that I would likely just sort of do my own thing at the rehearsal dinner and the reception because Matt and Liz would obviously be busy, and really I wouldn't really know anyone else there to hang out with.  Silly me.  Silly silly me.

Instead I spent a weekend with dear, dear people.  In all they had going on, Liz and I really did get to catch up, Matt managed to take me to lunch on Saturday, I sat through the wedding with the world's cutest ring bearer in my lap, and did The Wobble (I know, seriously) out on the dance floor with the whole family just like I was one of the gang.  Because that's how they are.  When I told Matt's mom goodbye, I thanked her for including me in everything.  With a quick wave of her hand, she said "Oh don't thank me, you were on Mark's list from the beginning."  Once you're in, you're in. :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Winning & Losing

I headed out to the Little League fields today to watch Spencer and Sam - who both had 3:00 games - play a little baseball.  It was a playoff game for Sam and the championship game for Spencer, and they were playing on neighboring fields.  

Ann Parke, her mom, her dad and I went back and forth and back and forth between the games and tried not to miss anything from either of them, but that's hard to do when there's so much going on.

Spencer has always been one of the more coordinated kids I have ever known, and every sport he has tried he has just 'gotten'.  He's a natural born athlete.  He's at the age in baseball where these kids have really figured it out and grasp the intellectual parts of the game as well as the physical, and they really love it.

There was quite a crowd and sadly, the game got away from them and they ended up losing.  At this age, when kids lose a game like this they don't flip out and throw fits like younger kids might...instead they are heartbroken.  Sweet Spencer was crushed.  He's got one heck of a big heart and every ounce of it was out on that field at the end of the game.  He was beside himself.  I was so glad I had my sunglasses on so my own tears wouldn't be on display.  I know that all kids need to lose sometimes and learn to be graceful about it (which they SO were), but it just plain hurt to watch.  This team is a team full of GREAT kids and they were just so, so sad.  But in the end, they all took it like champs.  

Meanwhile, Sam's game went a little bit longer, so we were able to catch the end of it.  They ended up winning (yay!) and I'm not sure that at first any of the kids realized it, so their reaction when they did was just adorable.  Sam went flying out onto the field in a batting helmet that ended up going sideways in his excitement.  I'm not so sure he could see where he was going, but he was pumped.

When he came out of the dugout after, he headed over to us and lifted his eyebrows to Spencer as he was walking towards us, asking "Did y'all win?" without saying a word.  Spencer quietly shook his head no, and Sam, who was close enough to talk now, said, "Oh, well that's okay."  So precious.  Of course I teared up again. :)

Oh, I just love these boys.  So much.  I can't imagine how their mom feels, because I feel like even I have blinked and they have gotten so big.  I'm so very fortunate that I've gotten to watch them grow up so far, and I can't wait to keep going...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Oh Y'all, the Tears...

It goes without saying that I love kids.  That's a little like saying that fish love water and that my daddy loves football...things that are so obvious that it seems ridiculous to even have to say them...

A good while back, I happened to see a quick status update on Facebook from my friend Liz, who is a friend from high school.  She is a speech specialist at a school in Washington, in a town right on the edge of Seattle.  She mentioned that her low income school could really benefit from some extra, unused "Box Tops for Education" if anyone had any.

I didn't think much of it, but then a couple of days later I noticed that the new cases of paper we were getting at work had a Box Top on the wrapper of each ream.  The mortgage business uses just a LITTLE (that's definite sarcasm) bit of paper, so I started clipping the Box Tops off of each wrapper.  Every now and then, when I had collected a decent amount, I'd stick a stamp on an envelope and send it on out to Liz.

Come to think of it, I think I only sent envelopes out there twice-maybe three times.  And in the grand scheme, I know that what I sent really probably didn't amount to a whole lot.  (Ironically, today of all days, I was at Whitaker for lunch and the folks in the front office were sorting through MOUNDS of Box Tops.  They were everywhere.  Serious business.)

I was happy to collect these for the kids in Washington, thinking maybe a tiny little bit might help, but after I sent them I was always on to the next thing and honestly didn't give it much of a second thought.

Until today.

I got home from work and there was a manila envelope shoved in my mail slot that didn't make it all the way through and onto the floor with everything else.  I couldn't get my door open all of the way because the envelope was pinned between the door and the wall.  When I pulled it loose, I found this inside...

A Thank You, no, a Thank You POSTER (seriously it's huge, it will take up a wall in my office when I hang it tomorrow) from Mrs. Hernandez's 3rd grade class in Federal Way, Washington.  I sat in the floor and cried.  I read all of their little names and messages and smiled at their spelling mistakes and bubble letters.

I love kids.  I'd move Heaven and Earth to make every kid on this planet feel special if I could.  I wish I could send a million dollars to those kids in Washington to help their school.  But to think that maybe, just maybe, they felt a little special because someone so far away took two seconds to do something for them - enough to warrant a written thank you - knocked the wind out of me a little.  I don't know a single one of these kids.  It goes to show that the tiniest gestures can mean something.  Even ones that you honestly hardly remember doing.  And I don't at all say this to toot my own horn, but just to show that something that doesn't seem like a big deal to you might be a really big deal on the other side.  I just encourage you to do things that don't take much time and don't cost anything, but can still make a big impact.

I understand that if Mrs. Hernandez's class wins the Box Top contest at school, they get a pizza party.  And a class pizza party in third grade is just about like winning the Powerball would be for an adult.  So if you see me in the cereal aisle at Harris Teeter over the weekend with a pair of scissors demolishing all of the boxes of Cheerios I can find for that little stamp on the top, please just kindly look the other way. :)