Saturday, September 29, 2012

Competition

(Side note - I started writing this post back in APRIL, lol. I just never got around to finishing it but my friend Kathryn got me thinking about it again last week so I found it and am determined to finish!)

I'm going to go a little retro in this post and take you readers waaaay back to 1993. Bill Clinton was president. Gas was $1.16 a gallon. Snoop Doggy Dogg competed for radio time with Nirvana. And I was in the third grade, not caring about the president or gas prices or Snoop Dogg.

Third grade was a pivotal year for me. I had a fantastic teacher, Mrs. Lewis, who I will always credit for fostering my love for learning and encouraging me to get into the gifted programs at school.

Third grade was also the year that I realized that everyone around me was better than me. We had some insanely smart and talented kids in my grade. And I remember sitting in the classroom one day and thinking that out of that grade of smarts and talents, I wasn't the "best" at anything. I have never felt more un-special in my entire life than I did that day.

My 8 year old self took my bruised ego home, and there, I got some of the best advice that I have ever gotten, and it has stuck with me to this day. My mom could tell that I was bummed about something, and I told her how I was never going to be the "best". Chace is better at me at geography and spelling. Yuta is better at math. Wes is better at PE. Blair has better clothes. What was I the "best" at?? What made me special??

My mom told me that it's not a single talent or attribute that makes somebody unique and special - it's the combination of skills and talents that makes you who you are. And nobody in the world is going to have the exact same combination that you do. She said that I can't put myself up against every single person in the world in every single category, because there will ALWAYS be somebody who is "better". But you know what? That doesn't mean that I'm "worse". It's just different. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it's that combination that makes us unique. She also told me that I cannot take other people's talents and successes personally - their lives have no bearing on mine, and their strengths are not a reflection of my weaknesses. There will ALWAYS be somebody with more money or better clothes or different achievements in life, but that should not make me feel like my life and my achievements are a failure. She said to focus on what I have in my life to be grateful for and what I am proud of, and not to focus on what I perceive other people to have.

3rdgrade
3rd grade - I'm the one in the super cool floral dress
fourth grade
Here's a little more elementary school nostalgia, just for fun. I'm again, in the middle, in the super cool  floral dress
I remind myself of this advice while I'm Facebooking or Pinteresting or catching up on blogs. The internet gives us so much access and insight into other peoples' lives, but on the other hand - it really doesn't. Our online faces are just snapshots - nobody is seeing the full movie except ourselves. I don't think that's necessarily a bad or unnatural thing - we all like to put our best face forward, even online. And I think it's unfair to expect people to put all their dirty secrets and day-to-day struggles out in the open just to make other people feel better about themselves. On the other hand, I think it's also unfair to ourselves if we get caught up in competing with what we see online. The key is to draw inspiration and foster admiration - not to get caught up in feeling inferior. I often recognize things that I could personally work on from seeing things online, but I take it as positive direction, not as negative self-talk. My third grade self already learned that you can't compete head to head with all of your friends. That lesson is amplified when you look at the "bests" from all over the world - trying to compete with everybody in everything is self-defeating and impossible to win.

I have to consciously remind myself that the beauty and talents I see in my friends and online are not a reflection on me. Another person's life plan doesn't invalidate mine. Another person's impeccable wardrobe is an inspiration to me, not a criticism of me. And I can freely admire someone's beautifully executed craft project while laughingly trashing my own Pinterest fails. I have my own strengths and my own talents, and I think I have finally learned to love being me...even if it did take me 20 years to get there.

Source

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2 Years Old!!

Banana Bean is 2 years old today!! These two years have been such a whirlwind and we love having this little sunshine in our lives!

IMG_3578

IMG_3584

We have definitely had some hard days together this month but I know it's all part of the growing process. I try my best to stay calm because I can see in her eyes how frustrated she is, and we have a lot of "cool down" hugs and quiet time. I do get pretty frustrated sometimes though because it can be SO difficult to get her to do regular things - it is a major struggle some days to get her dressed and in the car to go somewhere and it drives me nuts that she doesn't understand that I'm taking her somewhere fun. I have had to adjust my expectations and admit defeat on some days...thankfully music class and Gymboree offer makeup classes :-). I have also been encouraging her to use her words and to tell me what she wants and why she is frustrated. I am usually pretty good at figuring out what she wants, but I know that her being able to communicate her needs for herself is a crucial skill and she is getting better and better at it every day!

IMG_3573

IMG_3492

IMG_3484

Anna LOVES playing dress up. One of her favorite times of the day is when I am in the shower or getting ready, and she gets to raid my shoe collection. It's pretty hilarious to see her shuffling around in high heels! I also put a costume jewelry stash in the bottom drawer of my nightstand and she loves finding it and playing princess with the necklaces and bracelets.

IMG_3602

 IMG_3459

 One major project that Steve and I have been having a lot of fun with is putting together Anna's new big girl room. It had been our original goal to move her in on her birthday, but we got waylaid with another nasty cold this week and it put us a few days behind. I am so excited to get it all pulled together - it's turning out even better than I had pictured in my mind and I can't wait to share pictures with you all. Anna is going to love it!!

IMG_3483

IMG_3470

IMG_3464

 Now that the weather has been cooling off, we have been enjoying playing outside again. Anna has really gotten into chalk, so we will go outside to the driveway and draw pictures, or play with her toy cars or balls. We are finally going to put away her pool - she keeps asking to swim but it's gotten just a little too chilly, at least under our shaded porch.

IMG_3463

IMG_3572

IMG_3562

IMG_3509

I have started my transition plan to getting Anna prepped for pre-school, and I have been taking her fairly regularly to the YMCA child care. Although I can't leave Maddie yet, I can drop off Anna and go walking with Maddie on the trail behind the building. The first few days didn't go very well, and they called me after 10 minutes to come and get her because she wouldn't stop crying. But we kept going, and now we can go a good 30 minutes before I pick her up. It made my mommy heart so happy to come back and in and see her dry-eyed and playing with toys. And Maddie has been enjoying the nature walks and the fresh air. My goal is to get to a point where it's a no-tears drop off and an hour-long workout, so hopefully we will get there soon!

IMG_3556

 IMG_3552

IMG_3520

One more big Happy Birthday to my beautiful little girl - we love you SO much Anna Bean and we are looking forward to this next joyful year with you!

IMG_3427

Picture Post!

I was putting all of these into Anna's 24 Month post but I didn't realize how many there were that I just had to share. Enjoy!

IMG_3420

IMG_3438

IMG_3437

IMG_3448

IMG_3452

IMG_3410

IMG_3411

IMG_3396

IMG_3392

IMG_3523





IMG_3506

Happy Birthday, Anna Bean!

Happy birthday to my beautiful Banana Bean!! She is TWO years old today, what a big girl! I am going to do a separate 24 Month Update post because I have a ton of pictures, so this post will be solely about the birthday girl.

DSC_0002

We decided to skip a party this year - we did a big party last year and although it was so much fun and you guys know I love to throw a party, I just have way too much going on right now. I kept giving myself guilt trips over it for the last two months, especially when all the other little girls in her playgroup had parties, but I am SO relieved that I didn't decide to throw one. Even a little party right now would have been a massive stress fest and I am so happy that we could put 100% of the attention onto Bean. We were also battling awful colds this week, and I think having everyone over would have been too much for my poor little sickie!

Well, even though we didn't have a party, I really wanted this day to be special for Anna. She is currently in love with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, so we decided to give the day a Minnie theme.

This is what the birthday girl woke up to on her big day! She LOVED it and immediately ran over saying "Min Mouse!" and playing with her place mat favors. The balloons kept her occupied while I cooked breakfast...maybe I should blow up balloons every day!! She also loved her balloon-decorated "princess chair". This set up was totally stress-free - I had almost everything already in my party stockpiles (isn't stockpiling a much nicer word than hoarding? lol) so all I had to buy were the helium balloons and the little place mat favors. Anna never figured out how to work the kazoo but she loved it when I played "Happy Birthday" to her on it.

IMG_3599

DSC_0007

Birthday breakfast was Minnie Mouse pancakes and eggs and bacon - her favorites!

IMG_3606

IMG_3618

After breakfast, we packed up the girls and headed to one of Anna's favorite places in Atlanta - the zoo! We were pleasantly surprised to find it not very crowded, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. We hadn't been there in a while, so it was fun to see how much Anna has progressed with identifying all the animals. Her favorite area today was the giraffe enclosure although she also enjoyed the elephants and the baby gorilla.

IMG_3620

IMG_3624

IMG_3655

IMG_3650

IMG_3642

IMG_3637

IMG_3635

Maddie dressed for the day too, what a good sister :-).

IMG_3684

IMG_3660

Anna conked out in the car on the way home, and this is what greeted her after her nap! And no, those are not all from us - Poppy and SuSu sent a trunk load of presents home with Steve last week. Thank you Poppy and SuSu!

 DSC_0020

Auntie Ally and Baby Daniel came over to enjoy some birthday cupcakes and to help open presents. Auntie Ally gave Anna a copy of  The Lion King to add to her movie collection, and I think Steve was more excited to watch it than the birthday girl!

IMG_3665

DSC_0021

DSC_0024

DSC_0045

DSC_0055

DSC_0061

We wrapped up the night by playing with her new toys and cooking her favorite chicken nuggets for dinner. Anna also stayed highly amused by having me blow up a balloon, counting to three and then letting it go to watch it fly around the room. She would immediately go to fetch it and ask "More?? More?? Again! Peese?"

DSC_0079

DSC_0084

DSC_0086

DSC_0089

IMG_3672

It was a long but fun day, and we hope our darling 2 year old enjoyed it!

Happy Birthday, Anna!!!