April 28, 2013

Progress Check: Little Man at 18 Months

In honor of Bryson's 2nd half-birthday, I'd like to take a few moments to reflect on his current personal profile -- the skills, talents, interests, quirks, and such that we want to save in this digital time capsule of a blog.

I'll follow the formula I established in his 15-month update. Here we go!

Height - 32.75"
Weight - 25-26 pounds
Head - TBD at 18-month appointment
Runs around like a big boy. True toddler!

LOVES to be outside.
Gardens (eats dirt) with Daddy.
Still dances if the right beat comes along, but would prefer to run.
Shoes are a must when we go out - he's gotta run free!
Still enjoys a nice pair of shades.
Initiates wrestling with cousins on a regular - gotta watch that.
Favorite play partner - still Daddy! Nobody earns a belly laugh like him.
Still loves pushing buttons - any kind, anywhere.
Will go on walks with me IF I pack enough Goldfish and Cheerios to keep him happy.
Loves to run up and down the sidewalk and between the houses in our neighborhood.
His Gymboree this month is his near 24/7 playtime with cousins!
Total wildman playing on the big spongey wedge cushions at Nana and Pop's.
Likes to scoot on bikes and Plasma Cars.

VERY friendly. He has a very quick, straight-up, straight-down "Hi." wave he offers to people.
Likes to blow smoochies when the spirit moves him. Selective with REAL smoochies.
If he's not in the mood to FaceTime, he'll let me know by demanding my attention through (sometiems violent) physical attachment.
Loves going to Ms. Diane's and playing and learning two days per week!
Still not sure about the nursery at church. It's hit or miss.
Has been great about seeing family! Takes a bit to warm up, but then he knows their names and gets right into the swing of things.
There have been days this week when he's been pretty clingy - but I'm okay with that. I'll take extra snuggles any day!
Likes to pat us on the back sometimes when we're holding him :)

Usually will say "please" or "thank you" on request (not otherwise!)

Everyday words:
Bolt (Daddy's proud of that one - learned on the playground)

I know I'm forgetting lots...I'll come back to update!

Names (new since last update): 
Aiden, Avery, Luke, Leah, Kayleigh, Jacob, Nana, Paw Paw, JoJo, Tutu, Pop, George (as in Curious)

Animal Noises
Monkey (looooves Curious George!)

Eats pretty well! Appetite depends on the day.
Pretty good with fork, less so with the spoon.
Still has a bad habit of throwing food when he's "all done" with it.
Favorites/staples: Bananas, grapes, steamed zucchini, peanut butter waffles, colby jack cheese sticks, tiny sneaky bits of sweets (if I'm selfless enough to share)

Still hates having his hands and face wiped after a meal.

All in, except for the pointy ones!
Big white front teeth, super-useful molars. (Probably thanks to the "tooth juice" fluoride drops.)
Still a great teether - we don't know they're coming til they're already there.

Lookin' Good
The faux-hawk is growing in strong.
I think we'll do a first haircut soon, as the hair behind his ears is looking kinda creepy.
He still gets called a "pretty boy" a lot.
I think he looks a LOT like me in my toddler pics, but he sure is handsome like his daddy.
Eye color seems to be settling into a greeny-gray. (Yes, he can list that on his driver's license.)

Still enjoys kicking back with hands behind his head.
Naps once a day, usually 1.5-2.5 hours shortly after lunchtime.
Usually goes down between 8-8:30. Wakes up around 6 to nurse, then back down til about 7:30.
Started covering him with a light Aiden + Anais blanket to feel more cozy.
Still using a binky and clip for sleeping and "emergencies" if needed in public (church!).
Listens to Hidden in My Heart lullabies (Volumes I and II) on iPod during sleepy times.


Bathtime duty still alternates. Daddy is all about the glowsticks!
Loves to splash. And try to drink the water when the tub is drained.
Always waves "bye-bye, bathtub" upon exit. (That's how he first learned to wave!)

That's it. He's the man. So crazy and fun to watch him grow and develop into a little person.

There's a lot going on in our lives right now, but it's so important for me stop and capture this stuff before it fades away.

What do YOU need to capture before you forget, and what are you waiting for? Open up a Word doc and write it down today! 

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

April 18, 2013

Our Worst Case of Jet Lag...Ever.

Earlier this week, B and I flew through the sky, over the ocean, and across a handful of timezones to visit the Lone Star State.

(His daddy's holding down the rainbow for us 'til we return.)

Writing a post about our flight adventures has been on my list for almost a year now. But this post isn't about our flight adventures. 

This post is about the ridiculous consequences of our most recent one.

When I speak of such ridiculous consequences, I speak of jet lag. To be honest, I used to scoff at the term. Like it was made up or something. 

It's not.

In fact, for those of you unfamiliar with it, here's the definition, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

Fatigue? Check. 
Irritability? Check. 
Spontaneous emotional breakdown in front of father, sister, son, and bro-in-law? Check-check.

Let's back up a bit.

In the week leading up to our departure, B developed a bit of a mild cough, which disturbed everrrybody's sleep each night. By the time our departure day rolled around, I knew it hit me. I had a cold too. 

All things considered, our redeye flight was pretty uneventful. Out of the seven-ish hours, B probably slept about five. I was in and out of consciousness, making sure he was as comfy as possible, snuggled up with me in the seat. 


We arrived, bleary-eyed, but running on adrenaline and the excitement of seeing Texas fam for the first time in months. We got our traditional Shipley's breakfast and cousins came to play. 

B was happy as a clam while I (a bit compulsively) unpacked and got us settled for the visit. 

Honestly, I was shocked (inspired?) by how well he was coping with the time change. He was FULL of energy, running around like a wildman and playing with his cousins. He eventually took a short nap, then came back for more.

All was well, until it wasn't.

Later that evening (or was it afternoon?!), I had a breakdown. My dad asked if he could leave to go handle something up at the office, and I lost it. 

I was SO. STINKING. EXHAUSTED. Just the idea of surviving dinner, bath, and bedtime alone on what felt like half a brain pushed me over the edge. 

I burst into a mess of tears, right there in front of my dad, my sister, Bryson, and my bro-in-law. (Who asked from the safety of the next room, "Aren't you supposed to cry when you're LEAVING? You just got here?!")

My dad, flabbergasted by the ridiculous response (although he really should be used to it by now after raising four daughters...) said, "Well I'm sorry! I won't even think about leaving now!"

I was a mess. Sweet Bryson grabbed a Kleenex and started wiping his face out of precious empathy.

Through the sobs, I laughed at myself. "I'm sorry. I have literally no good reason to be crying. There is no secret emotional cause. I'm just tired! Like exhausted. I just want to relax. I want Bryson to sleep well. Since I don't see that happening, I'm a crazy person."

Minutes later, I snapped out of it. I hadn't had a good cry in a while, so maybe I just needed a release.

Then it was Bryson's turn to take a spin on the jet lag train.

After the cousins were gone and the toys were shelved, it was time to set the bedtime routine in motion. I knew we were in for something special, considering the tiny amount of sleep and massive amounts of playtime we were working with.

We sat down to the table with some strawberries, Wheat Thins, and a peanut butter waffle (don't judge).

The rest of the story speaks for itself. 

(Note: Be sure to turn up your speakers so you can hear/see what happens at :29.)

I originally recorded this just to send to his daddy, who is missing him like crazy. (Thanks for sharing us with Texas, Jerm!)

But then I realized it was too funny/cute/pitiful not to share with everybody.

Immediately after the sleepiest dinner of all time, we headed to a quick bath and got ready for bed. Except for a 30-minute period when he sat quietly in his crib, pondering life's great mysteries, he slept remarkably well for the entire night! 

As for me, his crazy mother, I felt MUCH better after a shower and getting some work done. A day or so later, we're almost adjusted.

As it turns out, our worst case of jet lag of (ever) was pretty entertaining. Even still, I'm hoping to spare the tears next time. Unlike Bryson's sleep-eating, it's just not cute.

What are your best tips for avoiding jet lag? Share them here in the comments!

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

April 7, 2013

Confessions of a Prom Queen: 10 Years Later

Our senior prom was ten years ago this week.


In honor of the 10 year anniversary, I'd like to share some of my clearest thoughts and memories about the big day and the stuff leading up to it.

Spoiler alert: None of these confessions are scandalous. I was (and always have been) a pretty boring goody-goody. Thanks for being my friend anyway.

Since the whole prom experience was a pretty fun and innocent part of our story, I figure it's worth remembering.

At the very least, this will be entertaining for our grandbrownies to read one day :)

Confession #1: I almost didn't have a date. 

Sure, I had been with my boyfriend (now husband) for almost four-and-a-half years by the time this dance rolled around. We had been to every single dance since eighth grade together. But still. I was a lady.

And he needed to ask.

We didn't have many classes together during our time in school, but this particular semester we shared third period - economics. Our teacher (Mrs. K) had a great sense of humor. She also a dry erase board on one wall of the classroom where she listed anyone who was freely available on the prom date market.

With Jerm sitting right next to me, I raised my hand.

The class laughed, knowing we'd been a couple for a million years in high school time. Still.

"He hasn't asked yet!" I said.

And I was added to the list.

Confession #2: I orchestrated my own prom proposal.

I've always been a pretty direct communicator.

When I knew I was going with a white dress, I casually (or probably not-so-casually) mentioned that it'd be cute if he proposed that I go to prom with him.

(Seriously - Lord help me if Bryson's high school girlfriend is as "subtle.")

On the way to prom, we stopped to take pictures at the Hines Waterwall Park in Houston. Clever boy he was, he busted out a (fake) ring and proposed.

Yes - literally en route to the big event.

Confident little fella.

Confession #3: I picked our first dance song.

Our class vice principal (Mrs. Z) asked me after school one day, "What song should we play for the couple who wins prom king and queen?" I replied, "Well I don't know about anybody else, but if it's me and Jerm, you could play 'My Best Friend' by Tim McGraw. That's our song!"

Crazy of all crazies, a few weeks later on prom night, we found out it WAS me and Jerm!

But we didn't have that moment you see in the movies, when there's an official "first dance." The next slow song, our song, wasn't played until a few songs later. In a way, it was even more special. Surrounded by a sea of our classmates and friends, we knew it was playing just for us.

AND, to add another layer to that special musical onion, about five-and-a-half years later, we danced to the same song, surrounded by many of those same friends.

I was wearing a white dress, and he was wearing a tuxedo.

But this time my diamonds were real.

Confession #4: The dance was WAY more fun than the before and after parties.

I know a lot of my friends had the most fun at the pre-party or the after-party, but for me, the dance was the best part of the night.

Corsaged hands down.

I've mentioned before that I love to dance. Jerm, not so much. His excuse at first was that he didn't want to get sweaty before we went up on stage. So he stood, and I danced and whirled around him.

(FYI: He still didn't dance much even after the stage part...LAME!)

Really though, there was something magical about such an iconic evening. All night, I kept thinking, "I can't believe this is our senior prom," a classic rite of passage for any American teenager.

We were there at the Hyatt, all dressed up and celebrating with friends we'd accumulated over the better part of a decade. This was the last big hurrah before we went our separate ways. It just felt significant.

As the night went on, the songs got slower. And mushier. I remember slow dancing to "Freebird" (ha!) and "Time of Your Life." I held onto him so tightly. I'm pretty sure I cried a little. I knew it was a precious moment that we'd remember forever.

I had a feeling change was coming soon, and I was right. Just a few months later, we went our separate ways for a while as we figured out who we were on our own. (Not sure what we'll tell the grandbrownies about that part just yet.)

Confession #5: Our classmates are awesome - and maybe a little crazy.

Our freshman class started out with about 1200 people. By graduation, we were down to 950. Sounds like a lot, right? It was.

You wouldn't think you could really get to know many people well in such a huge school, but we did. Our hometown produces some really special folks (and a surprising number of "sweetheart" marriages!).

I think it's safe to say that we got along with everybody.

It was incredibly humbling to be selected for this "honor" by our classmates. As the "old married couple" of our class, year after year we'd be nominated for this or that. One of us would win, the other wouldn't.

The class election stars had never perfectly aligned before, and we weren't crazy enough expect them to for the last go 'round.

When they did, it was a storybook ending to that chapter of our story.

(Thanks again for that, guys!)

Confession #6: It really did feel like a movie, minus the mean girls part.

I mentioned that our class was made up of some great people. That means they didn't nominate meanies for stuff like this. Unlike the movies, the folks who got nominated for special recognition were good people. Nice, friendly people.

On prom night, we shared the stage with some of the kindest people in the whole bunch. That made the whole experience even sweeter.

I'm not gonna lie to you. When our names were called - both, together - it was pretty surreal. Seeing our friends jumping up and down on the dance floor in front of us was pretty fun too.

And breaking it down on the dance floor with them in the moments immediately following was even MORE fun :)

Confession #7: I still have the tiara. And the frog.

Friend, I really loved this tiara. (What girl doesn't love some sparkle?)

I'd gotten a little tiara for homecoming before, but this one was a big mama in comparison.

After the announcement, I danced around the room, sharing the tiara with girlfriends who wanted a spin with the sparkle. (Hey ladies - if you have pictures from that night, send 'em to me!)

I've still got the tiaras, the sashes, the mums, the posters, the dance team costumes, the dresses, the notes...way too many fire hazards...in boxes at my parents' house. I can't let 'em go just yet.

The same goes for the giant purple frog Jerm won for me at AstroWorld. We had a physics field trip at the (now-extinct) Six Flags theme park the day before, and with just $5, he made the "impossible" shot.

(Hey - he wasn't co-captain of the basketball team for nothin'! Should've seen his dunking skills.)

Seriously - how perfect? A purple frog with a crown?

If you need extra help with the appreciating foreshadowing here: We got our own crowns the next night, just months before I officially became a Horned Frog at good ol' TCU - where purple is the only color in the rainbow.

Confession #8: It wasn't all perfection.

Amidst all the fun, glamorous memories and perfect purple frog king, it's important to keep it real. For the grandbrownies.

While I certainly felt like a princess at certain points in the evening, the look took some work.

I had a spray tan, good Spanx (did they exist in 2003?), and had been using Crest White Strips for weeks to prepare. My amazing mama styled my hair, as she had done for all but two dances in my entire "school dance" career. My sister did my makeup - complete with fake lashes, my favorite part!

As for the ol' king and queen?

We had an argument right before hopping in the fabulous red stretch Hummer. I was upset because Jerm had stayed at the beach house the night before, when I wasn't allowed (or didn't really want to...see "goody-goody" reference earlier).

I missed hanging with my girlfriends. The nature of the beast was that there were only so many beach houses and so many people to fit in in each. We were scattered up and down the row, quite a walk away from my best girlfriends. I was sad to miss out on that part.

Best part because it turned out fine: Jerm went to the emergency room the next day after a freak allergic reaction to peeling crawfish. HA! Seriously. Scary at the time, hilarious in retrospect. Poor guy.

That was not a fun way to spend "skip day."

10 Years Later

Mysterious allergic reactions and spray tans aside, it was a pretty magical night.

Now, ten years later, we've been married and living in Hawaii for going on five years. Our little one is almost 18 months old.

If you'd told me then that we'd be here now, I wouldn't have believed you.

I had always considered that we'd end up together, but that night, all I could think about was the next few months. Going off to college, starting an entirely new chapter.

It was such a bittersweet but exciting time.

So. To my future grandbrownies and all high school seniors across America, here's my advice:

Chill out. Yes, college is important, and yes, relationships are too, but take a deep breath. Stop worrying so much. You'll look back and laugh at the things you take so seriously now. 
Cool it with the self-portraits. I'd tell you to take more pictures, but let's be honest. In the age of digital photography, you're probably taking too many already. Take pictures of the special stuff, and the everyday stuff you want to remember, but then delete the others. And never take pictures of something you wouldn't want your grandma to see :) 
Love on your buddies. The friends you made in high school (and before!) will always be special to you, even if you don't see them nearly as often as you'd like. Who knows? You may even live across an ocean one day and have to miss weddings and babies and stuff you swore you never would. That part stinks. But it's life. So take advantage of these last few months when you're all in the same five-mile radius.  
Let each other go and grow. After almost five years together, Jeremy and I broke up that summer after high school. It was ridiculously tough, but I'm so thankful for that time. So don't be afraid to let your "person" (boyfriend or best friend!) go. It's important to know who you are independently before you can truly appreciate who you are together!
Don't rush. Whether you had a great high school experience, you can't get out fast enough, or both, this is a special time in your life. 

Live. it. up.

Okay, "grownups," what's your favorite prom story - good or bad? Do tell. Bonus points if you send photos.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!

April 2, 2013

The Secret to a Successful Day

Has it seriously been a week already!?

Time is flying over here, friend. Like whoa.

I mentioned last week that I'm finding it harder and harder to make time to write over here. It's true.

And I have got to let go of the guilt.

While I thoroughly enjoy clicking "Publish" at the end of a writing session, it's not what defines a successful day for me.

Planning the Transition
I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate stories about B and our family life on my new site. I'm just not sure how to do that yet.

I know my dream clients will LOVE that I'm a mom (because they're moms too!), so it will be a natural fit at some point. Plus, B is pretty stinkin' cute. Who wouldn't want to hear about him? ;)

Still, while I'm just getting things started, I'll need to focus my efforts on specific content that can help my potential clients. (That content will be related to communicating like a superstar!)

Basically what I'm telling you is: Please don't be disappointed that the mom stories are taking a backseat right now. 

a) That's what Facebook is for! and
b) I'll find a way to keep writing them eventually. Gimme time.

In the meantime, I've gotta be smart about my time and resources. At this stage of the game, my mom energy is best spent on actual momming, and my writing energy is best spent on biz planning.

To-Do, To-Do, To-Do
Behind the scenes these days, I'm participating in a lovely Good Morning Girls bible study, hanging with my hunky husband, playing with my ever-entertaining toddler, grading papers and facilitating UOP discussions, developing education programs and creating content for my NPS job, flossing, soaking up training videos, meeting new digi-friends, maintaining sanity by walking around the block a time or four each day....

And that's not even including all the biz-building activity up in this piece! Seriously. There's a lot going on.

BUT it's all okay. I know that and I feel that. And I've actually been way less stressed than I imagined I'd be! That's no coincidence.

I think I mentioned before that this year I've challenged myself to do a daily devotional called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Shockingly, so far I've managed to complete every day, on the actual day, except for two. (Boo to those two days.) This is a BIG deal for me!

Anyway. A lot of the devotions focus on consciously choosing to experience God's peace, feeling joy, knowing Him and being open to His guidance. But one particular message from this weekend really struck me, right in the to-do list-making heart:
"A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day. Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life."

Even when I get lost in a sea of to-do lists (and wow, do I have a sea of to-do lists!), I'm reminded that this life is just a blip on the radar of eternity. I'm absolutely meant to do what I'm doing, so I should take it seriously, BUT....not too seriously.

Say it with me now:

It's okay I didn't write a new blog post. It's okay I didn't do the laundry. It's okay I didn't make it to the grocery store. It's okay I didn't do my taxes. It's okay!

Okay, we really do need to pay our taxes, and we really do need groceries and clean clothes. Those aren't things we can just forget forever.

HOWEVER... they are things that are SO minor that they don't deserve brain space, stress, guilt, or disappointment on a daily to-do list.

Get what I'm saying?

Here's the secret to a successful day:

Let it go, friend. 

Instead of feeling bad about what was left on your to-do list tonight, focus on the best things that DID get done today. Be present in those fleeting moments that you know will make the highlight reel.

Wanna know the best thing I did today? Check out that picture up there.

I took my little dream guy to the park to burn off some energy before lunch and naptime. It was kinda hot. He found all the tiniest rocks and gave them to me as gifts. We slid, we swung, he laughed, I smiled, and it was fun.

Today was a successful day.

In the comments, I'd like to know: What's your definition of a successful day? How do you unwind when you've got a lot going on?

P.S.  This post is not directly related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!