On the Evening of her First Birthday

One year ago this evening, at 34 weeks pregnant, my water broke. And a couple of hours later, contractions started. I labored until just after midnight, and then they took me back for a C-section because Baby Girl was breech. At 12:34 on December 10, I met my daughter, Elizabeth Claire. So tiny, just 5lb, 11oz and 19in long. But so healthy and strong, she was. Looking back now, I had no idea what was in store for me over the next year.


One year ago. Everyone told me it would go by so fast. Savor every moment, they said. Soak up every second, they said. Enjoy every phase, they said. And I have. I have loved every single phase of her first year of life. Those early newborn snuggles made for such simple days, holding her and resting together. Then she could hold her head up, and we didn’t feel as afraid of breaking her all the time. Then she could sit up by herself. And then she could crawl. And now she can walk behind a push toy or holding onto something. I love all of those phases. And I have soaked up and cherished every day of being her mommy. But my goodness, they were all right. It is so cliche to say it, but it just went by so fast. And I know it will keep going by so fast, and I will keep enjoying each phase as it comes.

Last weekend, we had a one-year photo shoot and I am dying over the pics. On Sunday, we will have her first birthday party. The theme is pink and gold with crowns. A crown on her head and a crown on her cake. I may have gone a little overboard, but I just can’t make any apologies. I love my birthday, and I love her birthday more. And I will always always always make a big deal about it.


I heard someone say on NPR one day that motherhood is the “terrifying joy of unbearable responsibility.” What a perfect phrase, each word so true. As I have written before, I pray over her every night and every thought that goes through my head is filtered through my experience as her mother. I am a better person because of her. I am a much better school administrator because of her. I am sometimes a worse friend because it is so hard for me to choose to be away from her. More than anything, I love being her mommy. And tomorrow my baby turns one. This is just the beginning of the great adventure of life with Elizabeth Claire. What a sweet and wonderful life it is…

These are some of the little wonders about her right now:

*When you change her diaper, she reaches down and pulls off the left tab. Only the left, and she will do it as many times as she can before you put her clothes on.

*She says “Aaaaahhhhh” when she hugs her stuffed animals.

*She gets tickled looking at pictures and videos of herself.

*She loves to play chase with me or Jon or PepperCat.

*Her favorite toys that aren’t toys are remote controls, measuring cups, toothbrushes, and paper.

*When you put her lovey on your shoulder, no matter what time of day, she has an automatic reflex to lay her head on it.

*When I pick her up at daycare, as soon as she’s in my arms, she turns to her teacher and her little friends and says, “Bye bye!”

*She waves at everyone as you walk with her in your arms in public.

*Opening and closing doors can keep her entertained longer than anything else.

Tomorrow she turns one. Her first year has been the most joyful year of my life.



ten months with her.

My baby girl is ten months old this week. She loves balloons, and stuffed animals, and chasing after the cat. She crawls fast and then sits for a quick break before crawling fast again. She pulls up on anything she can and then looks back to make sure you saw her, so proud. She kicks her legs when you pick her up, so excited. She babbles to her toys in her crib when she wakes up, so precious. She watches our mouths and tries to imitate words, so curious. She reaches out and touches our faces, so sweet. Our world revolves around her, and when she goes to bed in the early evening, I miss her. When I leave for work at 6am without seeing her awake, I miss her. When I spend my day with teachers and children, I miss her. The work day can’t end soon enough so that I can get to her and spend every moment we can playing together, swinging, climbing, crawling until it’s time for bed. Every night I pray over her that she will be strong, and brave, and confident, and kind, and generous, and smart, and creative. Every night I tell her that being her mommy is my favorite thing in the world. Every night I tell her how much I love her and how proud of her I am. I hope she always knows and feels that.FullSizeRender-2

on birthdays.

when i was growing up, i had a birthday party every single year. mom always made the day feel incredibly special. i took those experiences with me into my adult life, and have absolutely loved my birthday every single year. it always falls right after school starts, which is either good or bad, depending if i’m at a new school or not. this year, it fell on a saturday, and considering how no one at my new school knows me yet, was just perfect. my sweet husband made it such a special day, starting with two perfect presents: the new langhorne slim album on vinyl and a gorgeous new necklace. later in the day mom, ashley, and brooklyn came down with gifts and the offer to stay with the baby while jon and i went out on a date. we had the most wonderful evening of overpriced food and drinks and adult conversation. just lovely. and all throughout the day, my phone sent me notifications of thoughtful friends near and far wishing me a happy day and a great 34th year. my heart still feels full from so much love.

thank you for thinking of me on august 29, my favorite day of every year.

i fully intend on passing on this tradition of making birthdays a major holiday for baby elizabeth. watch out, december 10!


The Night before the First Day of School

Tomorrow I will experience my 29th first day of school, and my 13th as an educator. This one will look quite different than the others as I begin a new job at an elementary school as an assistant principal. My morning will not be spent holding my breath in a high school hallway, waiting on all students to find their classrooms for first block, thus affirming that I built a good master schedule. It will not be spent with nerves and butterflies as round after round of teenagers come into my classroom, strangers. Rather, it will be spent in the bus port, in the cafeteria, in the front office, and in the hallways helping nervous children and their nervous parents find where to go. I will visit classrooms and make sure teachers have what they need to do their best work. I will probably spend most of the day on my feet, easily tallying 10,000 steps on my Fitbit (which is taking over my life…but that’s another post altogether).  And sometime between 4pm and 5pm, I will drive half an hour to pick up my baby girl, hold her tight, and tear up at the thought of her first day of kindergarten. Becoming a mother has made me a better educator. I think differently as I listen to parents’ concerns about their child’s schedule, or about the mean kid who is picking on their son. Every time I see a parent with his/her child in the hallway, I think, “That’s their baby.” I know they see their second-grader as their baby because I am certain that I will always think of Elizabeth as my baby. So tonight as I go to bed, I will probably sleep through the night, unlike when I was in the classroom and the jitters kept me up all night, but I will wake up tomorrow with the mindfulness that 1050 parents are trusting me and my colleagues with their babies. I promise I will take the best care of them that I can.

Beach Trip 2015

For the first time in several days, I am completely alone. We are home from the beach, Jon is at work, his parents on are their way back to STL, and E is at daycare. I am blissfully alone in the house…with a milelong list of to-dos. But first, a blog post.

Fact: Going to the beach with a six-month-old sounds like more fun than it actually is. In reality, it’s just regular life without going to a job and with a better view. I am completely worn out! E was way off of her schedule, unimpressed with being hot and sandy, and missing her rocker and her bed. (OK, I missed the rocker more than she did, but still.)

5am coffee at the beach
5am coffee at the beach

E and I were at PCB from Saturday to Saturday. For the first half of the week, we were joined by Mom, Memaw, Ashley, and Brooklyn. #HarrisGirlsBeachTrip2015 It was so good to spend that much time with them, but with an almost-three-year-old and an 81-year-old, the trip was way more work than I am used to at the beach. Gone are the days of sunning on the beach as long as I want. I am just as pale now as I was before we left for the beach. On Wednesday, Jon and his parents joined E and me for the rest of the week. Things got a little easier for me with my partner there and no toddler around, but it was still not a relaxing time. Truly, the best part of the trip was the pictures I got of E on the beach. This mermaid picture is just my favorite thing in the world right now! Peggy did a fantastic job knitting it!

My Little Mermaid
My Little Mermaid

I’m just glad to be home. And I’m especially glad to have some time to myself (Thanks, daycare!) to continue the never-ending chores that come with parenthood.

A Reflection on Mother’s Day

Today is my first ever Mother’s Day. Exactly five months ago I became a mommy and my whole life changed forever. Every night when I put Elizabeth to bed, I whisper in her ear that I’m so proud to be her mommy. I often feel like my heart will burst with the love I have for her and the awe I feel when I look at her. We made her. She came from me. I grew that gorgeous baby inside me. What a gift. I am so lucky.


Every Mother’s Day I spend time with my sweet, selfless, loving mother and try to show her how much I appreciate her and admire her. She always has time for me. She always answers the phone with joy in her voice, sounding so happy to hear from me. (I’ll try to call more often, Monya.) And the way she talks about Ashley and me…you would think we were wonder-daughters. But to watch her as Grandma to Brooklyn and Elizabeth is the sweetest role I have ever seen my mother play. Brooklyn is obsessed with Grandma. If given the option to spend time with anyone, Brooklyn chooses Grandma. It’s so wonderful to see your mother become a grandmother. I can’t imagine how that must feel to see your own daughters become mothers.

As happy as I am today, I can’t help but think of my friends who have lost their mothers and the void they must feel today. And my friends who desperately want to become mothers and are betrayed by their bodies. Today is so very hard for them. I am thinking of you and sending sweet, warm, comforting thoughts your way, friends.

Things I Want to Remember at 5 Months

She rolls over to her tummy and then gets mad that she’s on her tummy. She hasn’t yet figured out what to do with her arms to roll back over.

When she takes a bottle, she waves her hands all around the whole time she is eating.

She kicks her legs when she’s really amused or happy. She also does this in the bath, making water go everywhere.

She loves to be held cheek-to-cheek.

Holding blankets and soft books are the only toys she’s shown interest in so far.

When she wakes up in the morning, she wants a bottle immediately. Even before changing her diaper.

IMG_0297The television is fascinating to her, so we have to be careful how much we leave it on when she’s in the room.

She rolls to her side as soon as you lay her down in the crib.

No matter where I lay her down, she ends up laying sideways with her head and feet at the bars of the crib.

She loves to be outside, lay on a blanket on the grass, and feel the wind and look at the sky.

She has started parroting some sounds.

To get her to calm down and fall asleep, I sing Amazing Grace while rocking her and it works every time.

She has only laughed twice. Once when Daddy held her up over the door while Mommy was in the shower and once when my hair fell in her face when I was playing with her on the changing table.