Thursday, September 26, 2013


I'm a week into my 31st year.  And I can already say, I'm likin' 31.
I sit here with a steaming mug of coffee (a rarity these days), and a lot of energy.  My energy comes and goes lately.  I'm either bouncin' off the walls or feelin' like someone threw me against the wall.

On the eve of my birthday, I came home from cleaning, to a quiet, empty house.  I sat here, at the computer, and looked through my photos.  Within a half hour, I was greeted by Steve and Piper.  Pips' lips were sealed.  She wouldn't tell me of her and Daddy's recent whereabouts. 
I hugged my girl and smirked as Steve made his very best baby voice and hid behind Piper - "I'll never tell, Mommy!"  I changed into some pajamas and returned to the office to
find Piper dancing with Daddy and smiling her new favorite smile - the "Nani smile" - where she tucks her lips in and grins from ear to ear.  Nani always looked similar when her teeth weren't in. :)

Here's Piper (or "," as Aunt J. likes to call her) dancing to a song from 
and the Sesame Street gang.
Do you know, it was just a few months ago that I realized his name is William?!  Yeah...Uh duh...I know.  I'm horrible.  Just horrible.

Oh, this little girl...
I love waking up to her sweet face.


Last Wednesday, we went downstairs to the living room. 
I laid out a blanket and set up a few toys for her.  
I made a quick cup of coffee and sat and watched as she played and had a stare-off with Twinkie.  She is obsessed with him lately.

Afterwards, we went upstairs and got ready for our day.
I jumped into some clothes and threw my very dirty (and ratty) hair in a ball on top of my head and took my time picking out a pretty, little outfit for Piper.

We met Aunt Kim for breakfast.  Piper (the swiper) took less than .3 seconds to try and move my plate closer. 

She loves grabbing faces lately.
Sorry, Aunt Kim!

Piper helped me open my very thoughtful gifts. 
 Tissue paper is more fun than any of her toys.

After breakfast, I sat in the parking lot and checked my phone.  
My mom had sent me a birthday text with these two pictures attached.  It brought tears to my eyes.  
And made me really, really think about just how blessed I am. 

Piper and I stopped by her house for a visit.

Dee Dee had a few new friends waiting for Pippy...
What a lucky little babe!

Piper added pears to her list of "dippies for Pippy!"
I think it's safe to say she loved them!

Steve had taken a half-day, and when I called him from Deeds' to see when he was coming home,
 he told me Piper and I had to get home.
Turns out, he had some surprises for Mommy waiting at Dee Dee's.  (Sneaky Pips, Daddy and Deeds went shopping together Tuesday night...I got Piper to spill the beans).
So, we skedaddled on outta there and parked it in the living room as soon as we got home.
Piper enjoyed her lunch on the couch, all comfy and cozy.

A good hour passed and Steve was nowhere to be found.  I was exhausted from little sleep the night before, and Piper was getting ready for a nap.  We headed up to the bedroom to relax and snuggle while we waited for Daddy.  A couple minutes later, he was standing in the doorway with flowers and gifts and an apology for being late.
He excitedly told us he had a surprise and that he wanted to take us to the beach for the day.

This tired Mommy started to pout.  I even shed a few tears.  "I'm so tired, hunny.  And it's a little late."  I was on less than two hours of sleep from the night before.  And three, from the night before that.
I felt guilty for not seeming super excited and for not having the energy to go.
I felt guilty because I always talk about how special our little beach trip in August was to me.

All I needed was there in that room.  And though a day at the beach sounded wonderful, it sounded more exhausting than anything at that moment.  Steve felt bad and I quickly told him to please believe me - I really wanted to just relax.  I promised him that I'd be up for the beach another day.

Minutes later, he put Piper down for her nap.  And then, I took a warm bubble bath with a cold Diet Coke by my side at 3 in the afternoon.  It was glorious.  

I got out of the tub and suggested we go all out for dinner and hit up the Shady Maple Smorgasbord in Lancaster. 
I'm a cheap date - you eat for free on your birthday.
It's always such a pretty, peaceful drive.  

Piper was a sweetheart the whole trip...taking a snooze here and there and humming to herself (one of her newest, cutest things).

Pippys eat free too.
Don't tell anyone, but Piper sampled the sweet potatoes and of course, the ice cream.
She gave it two, chubby thumbs up!

"Hey, did I just see that lady walk by with some mashed potatoes and gravy?!  Bring some of that over Piper's way!"

Though it was still light out, the moon was shining bright - full and low, and following us as we drove home.

It was such a beautiful, it-feels-like-fall kinda night.  I stared out the window and gave thanks for all of my blessings. I tried very hard not to cry.  I know, I cry a lot.  It was my birthday and I cried if I wanted to.  Sing it with me!
If I could have, I would have galloped through the fields with Piper (and some leftover Shady Maple macaroons), but I settled for the next best thing, and asked Steve to pull over.

I wanted pictures.

 And I got them.  
When I look at these pictures, I remember the exact way I was feeling in those moments...that's why I love photos so much.  The way they make ya feel.

We came home and hung out with Piper for a bit before putting her to bed.
I opened my gifts in bed.  We watched an episode of Friends.  And *gasp* -  went to bed at 10:05.  

The next few days were good ones.

Piper and I relaxed and took it easy Thursday morning.

"Hey Mom, how 'bout I take this monitor for you and you take a nap.  I'll be listenin' for ya!"

Daddy, Piper and I took a trip to Kohl's.  We went shades shoppin' and Mommy picked out some much needed bras.  Why I feel the need to share that, I don't know...
Maybe it's because my boobs are very happy in their much needed, new home(s).   Piper also loved being in the bra section - she was in boobie heaven and drooling at the 4 million and eighty-seven thousand colorful "boobs" surrounding her.

Sorry, no bra photos.

We came home to a cute tower of four, mini boxes on our doorstep, all wrapped up super cute, complete with a homemade cupcake tag.
Who else could have left such a sweet treat, but Aunt Jessica.

Twinkie heard "treat" and went right for 'em.

"Wait! What?!  I don't see "Piper" written on this tiggy tag anywhere?!"
"Let's tell Mommy they're for us."

Friday, we woke up smiley

and headed to meet Aunt Kelly and Daxon for breakfast at our favorite spot (see photos with Aunt Kim above).

Daxon helped me with my toast 

and grits.

See for yourself...

Is he not awesome (and so stinkin' adorable)?!

After breakfast, the four of us headed out for a walk.  

Walking with Kelly and Daxon, with Piper "hanging" close felt so good.

That afternoon, my mom, Piper and I went to visit my dad.
Piper smiled at him.  A lot.
He got to kiss her.  And hold her hands and touch her toes.
There's a lot I could say...
Bittersweet doesn't cut it.

Piper took a quick soak before dinner.
This monkey had her share of bananas, and they were everywhere.

Friday night, we celebrated at Uncle Nicholas' gig.
Piper wore her "My Uncle Rocks" outfit that Dee Dee gave me last Christmas.

She's so interested in music.  And I love that.
Uncle Nicholas singing and playing grabbed her attention right away.

She and Deeds got front row seats.

Like I said, she loves grabbing faces.
This picture makes me laugh so hard every single time I see it.
I'm laughing right now.
And Piper looks so proud.

Okay, I'm snort-laughing.  

We danced with Piper.  She even provided some entertainment for the people on the deck.
They were waving at her through the window and cheering her on.

All that shakin' made for one sleepy Pippy.
Daddy was a nice place to rest.

Have I mentioned, she loves her Dee Dee?!?!

After dinner and dancin', we went to Dee Dee's for (some very sweet) gifts and coffee.

An end to a sweet day and night. <3

And Saturday...

Crazy cat baby

A nice, rainy day called for staying inside and taking it easy and cleaning...

Puppy, Penguin and Piper - the three amigos

I sorted through Piper's closet and dressers and rid them of her spring and summer clothes - getting them ready for her fall and winter wardrobe.
Bye-bye tiny, little clothes.
Bittersweet, yes.  But I love, love, love fall and winter.
And the clothes that go along with it.

So, 31, thank you.  I'm glad I'm here.
I believe that birthdays are "just another day" in a sense, but I also believe in celebrating.
Every day, there's something to be grateful be truly happy about.

Steve kept asking "Are you sure?" when I told him I'd like to postpone his surprise plans.
I look at these photos, and 
I'm so very sure.  
It doesn't matter where I'm at with these two, or any of the people mentioned above - 
With them, I'm in the presence of love.

How do I feel when I look at these photos?
I feel a deep, aching love for my husband and daughter.  I feel the sun that was setting that night.  And the sweet, fall chill that was in the air.  I feel like I'm dreaming...because that's me in these photos.  And I'm holding a beautiful baby girl.  And she's mine.
I feel content...happy...loved...full...fortunate...thankful for all I've been through and excited for what's to come.

And that's something to celebrate.

Happy Thursday.
I hope you celebrate something great today.

I'll be back with memories from the past couple weeks and from the first day of fall.

Now, I think I'll catch some sleep.  

We've got a date with some sand and sun later today.  

Thirty-One Times The Lovin',


Jen said...

Happy birthday week! The pictures are perfect... and now you can have a beach trip as well as a wonderful birthday. There is so much joy shining out of this post it's brightened my whole day : )

Heather @ Notes from the Nelsens said...

Love the revelation! And Piper dancing! And Piper Swiper. Love the views from your drive to and from dinner ("cheap date"- you're so cute!) and the precious family pictures y'all stopped to take! (The b&w one of all three of you and the sepia one of you and P are my fave!)... and love the sweet snuggles you got at Uncle Nicholas's gig! Sweet girl!

I hope you guys have so much fun at the beach today!! Steve is a sweetie to plan the surprise and even sweeter to go-with-the-flow on postponing it. :)

But just to clarify, is your birthday on the 17th? A week before mine?! I feel like I remember having this big revelation last year that we had the same birthday, but apparently I forgot when mine was. ;) I want to mark yours down so I can celebrate it on time next year!!

Have a sweet day, Maria!

(longest comment EVER) :)


E and R said...

Happy, happy birthday! You look so happy and are clearly blessed. Hope 31 treats you well all year long!

Janet S said...

Happy Birthday week my lovely friend. Once again, thank you for sharing and allowing us into your's a beautiful thing! xoxo

Alex[andra] said...

Oh my gosh, I didn't wish you a happy birthday on your actual birthday? Sorry! Happy, happy birthday and happy birthday week!!

You are such a busy Mommy and you deserve to relax. Especially on your birthday! The flowers from Steve are gorgeous!

The picture that was taken after your birthday dinner, where you're holding Piper and she is grinning and smiling, made me squeal in delight. It's such a precious shot!

Enjoy the beach and the rest of your birthday week!

Our Journey Through This Lovely Life said...

Happy Birthday Pretty Lady!! Love all the pictures!! Have a wonderful week!!

Alexis ♥

Rebecca said...

Happy Birthday!!!! I loved all of the pics? Pips is so loved :)

Judy Haughton-James said...

Happy Birthday again Maria! I am so glad that you are able to celebrate and have so many great things going for you. As always I love all the beautiful pictures and videos. Piper is so-o-o adorable! A true gift for you! Continue to celebrate and have good times my friend. Lots of Love, Friendship and Best Wishes to you, Steve and Piper.

Infertile625 said...

Happy Birthday my sweet friend! I love the black and white picture of the three of you on your birthday. It's gorg!! I love reading your updates. I feel like I know you! Sometimes I can hear your voice (complete with comforting Philly accent) narrating your post. XOXO

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Happy Birthday my dear friend! May you be blessed with a great week! You already have the most beautiful family! Not much more you could ask for! xo

Lora said...

Holy moly that little Pippy 'Granny Grin'.
I miiiiiisssss you! I will email soon. :)

Brittany said...

HAPPY BIRTHWEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you had the best, most special birthday yet! It definitely seems like it was :). I just seriously die over the Piper the restaurant, "pass the mashed potatoes!", hahahaha! SO stinkin' cute! Love that she is humming to herself; that has to be the sweetest little sound ever. It makes me so unbelievably happy to see her (and her momma!) in our headbands...cutest model on the planet! She is such a happy baby can tell she's very well loved :). So neat that y'all make lots of "special deliveries" to DeeDee's! I'm sure that makes her day.
Hope you and your beautiful family are having an amazing weekend! Hug sweet P for us!!!

Jodi Stuber said...

hey lady!! I just wanted to let you know I nominated you for a sunshine award :) I hope you come play along :)

mail4rosey said...

Such a sweet post, she's eating, hanging with fellow cutie-pie Daxon, dancing, and grabbing faces, lololol And she looks good doing it all too!!! She's just got cute going for all over the place. :)

As for moving around on little sleep, I can sooooo relate. It's very sweet (sleep) when we get it for any stretch of time, isn't it? :)

Happy Birthday to you!!!

Anna said...

Happy Birthday week! Sounds like you had a wonderful one!

Piper is just precious! You have so many lovely photos to enjoy for years to come! :)

Olivia said...

Happy Birthday! :)

You have so much love and happiness in your life, it's hard not to smile every time I read a new blog post. And you deserve it!


Faith said...

Happy birthday love!

I turn 31 in a couple of weeks :)

I completely agree about celebrating. It doesn't need to be anything big just a celebration that you've made it another year. Not many can say that.

I love the pictures! You have such a beautiful family!

Faith said...

P.S. The whole William thing made me laugh out loud!

beckyj @ A Lazy Crazy Life said...

A very belated Happy Birthday to you! (I'm SO behind on my blog reading...yikes!)

Sounds like a perfect and special day--I don't blame you at all for wanting to keep it simple and low-key. :)

Ashley said...

She is just such a little cutie! I love seeing all of her pics on instagram. She has such a beautiful smile that you can see shining in her eyes. :) All of her cuteness does not help with my baby fever. ;)

Ashley said...

so....I swear that my previous comment was on your last post.. weird. Anyways, happy very belated birthday to you, my friend! Sometimes the simplest birthdays staying near home and indulging in the little things are the best. :) Glad 30 treated you well, I hope that this year is better than the last!

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