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summer rewind: the beach

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Dear Summer,

It’s time to say goodbye.

I know I should be thinking about Halloween costumes and jack-o-lantern carving and all things pumpkin spice, but I still can’t shake my longing for you. It doesn’t help that you just won’t quit giving us 80-degree days. Every time I step out of the house in boots and jeans I have to turn right back around to dig my shorts out of the bottom drawer.

Marc and I took a quick trip to the coast last weekend to celebrate our 10 YEAR wedding anniversary, and we sat on the beach in our swimsuits sipping fancy fruity drinks in the sun. Marc even swam in the ocean! In October!

Oh Summer. You are so persistent.

Just about the only thing that could get me in the mood for fall is the North Carolina State Fair. Which starts in THREE DAYS. (One word: Twinx.)

So, I’m going to try to say goodbye with some phone pics from one of my favorite summer rituals of all: our family beach trip to Emerald Isle.

Thank you for long days at the pool, lightning bugs, hot dogs on the grill and a million moments of sun-kissed happiness.

I’ll see you bright and early on June 21. Can’t wait.

Suzanne

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>> other summer rewinds: the farm || the road trip <<

summer rewind: the road trip

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When I told people that I planned to drive from North Carolina to Ohio with my girls — solo — I got a lot of blank stares, some sympathetic hugs and even a couple of grimaces.

But you guys, it was amazing. I knew it would be.

I’ve always wanted to hit the open road by myself, and taking my girls along for the ride just seemed like too much fun not to try. I eliminated expectations before they even entered my brain: We will not be on any sort of schedule. We will stop often. We will smell all the roses.

There were moments that sucked. Like when Sophie required four potty breaks over the course of a single hour. Or when I got mad at Google Maps and went, shall we say, off course for a little while. But mostly, we had a big time. We ate ice cream on the North Carolina/Virginia state line. We met the nicest grandmotherly bikers (!) at a gas station in West Virginia. We drove in tunnels “right through the mountain!” as Lily would exclaim. And we swam in the hotel pool AFTER BEDTIME.

So proud of my little road dogs.

The reason for our adventure? Those two sweet faces up there. My best friend had her first baby in May, and I was determined to hold him (and hug her!) before he started walking and talking. Because it happens that fast.

And when we arrived and I caught my first glance of Julie as a mother, walking down her front porch steps carrying baby Levi, tears popped into my eyes.

We spent a lot of time relaxing and playing on the farm, with corn stalks and rows of soybeans as far as the eye could see. We also went to the zoo, fished in the pond across the street from Julie’s cottage and made a surprise visit to the local ER (strep throat/vomiting/yuck).

And we ate. And ate and ate and ate. I consumed my weight in homemade ice cream, in flavors like black raspberry chocolate, made with fresh berries grown on the farm.

It goes without saying that we had a ball.

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This is Noah. Levi’s cousin and Lily’s BFF for the week. Lily took this shot of him (along with about 600 others) and I love it.

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I didn’t take many pictures with my real camera (shocker, seriously) because I was too busy wrangling children and snuggling Levi. But I did burn it up attempting a little mama/baby photo shoot.

Just love these two.

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I had the best fun documenting our adventure on Instagram (how I adore you, Instagram), and although it hasn’t happened yet, I fully intend to make memory books for the girls. It’s been on my list since July. With about a million other things.

Here are highlights of my stream from that week. They tell the story best …

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say hello to the new Posy (hashtag proud big sis)

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I am SO excited for Laura I can’t stand it!

How can I possibly describe her awesomeness? Let’s see … she owns a small business and works her butt off to make that business succeed while at the same time wrangling an active (*understatement alert*) toddler and freshly-minted kindergartener.

She is, as Casey Wilson would say, ah-MAH-zing.

Check out the Posy re-boot to see what I’m talking about. And Laura’s Instagram feed is just plain lovely … and oh-so-refreshingling real (see: two-year-old Monroe in his diaper and winter hat).

Proud big sister over here. Super proud.

summer rewind: the farm

So summer officially ends in seven days, and I’m just now catching up on all the photos I’ve taken since June. Is it just me, or did this summer fly by? Like, crazy fast, right? I’m still in denial that it’s time to embrace school and pumpkins and long sleeves. But then I see a State Fair poster, and all is right with the world.

We had a pretty awesome summer, complete with a road trip and Lily conquering big-time fears at the pool. And I finally tried a Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. Big happenings, y’all.

Our season began, on June 21 exactly, with a trip to Nana and Bobby’s farm …

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There is something magical about the farm. Maybe it’s the animals who love to gobble carrots from our hands. Or the vastness of the mountains all around us. Whatever it is, I love any excuse to visit.

Laura and I took the girls (no boys allowed!) up the mountain in June. We fed pygmy goats, met the new pigs and slammed the screen door. A lot. We also celebrated Little Miss Elin, my cousin’s daughter, with a big sister party on Nana’s porch.

These little fairies ate sweets, decorated onesies for the new baby and romped all over the farm.

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Nana in her element. I love rocking on that porch with her.

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My lovely cousin Brittany, who happens to be the most gorgeous pregnant lady ever. (Baby Adilynn was born last week, Sept. 8! She looks just like big sister. So much love.)

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Tattoos from Aunt Laura!

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Showing Gretchen the Goat her fancy dance moves. I don’t think Gretchen is impressed.

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Why feed the goats when carrots are so yummy to eat? Smart Elin.

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Sophie insisted on painting her own toenails, and I let her. Because there are no rules at the farm (well, maybe a few … but they have nothing to do with toddler pedicures).

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Nana and her girls! This is one of my favorite shots of the entire summer.

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one in seven

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This statistic is startling.

When I was pregnant with Lily (who will be, oh, SEVEN this year), postpartum depression never crossed my mind. It was just that strange thing that happened to women in the movies and I had more important things to think about like how many onesies does a baby need? And what on earth are we going to name her?

But then. We got home from the hospital, and I started crying. And the tears didn’t stop for days and weeks and almost three months. Deliriously sleep-deprived and numbed by Lily’s constant inconsolable screaming, I spiraled into a deep, dark place of hopelessness, intrusive thinking and paralyzing anxiety.

My neighbor noticed I hadn’t been outside much. She came knocking (thank goodness) bearing food and a pamphlet for Moms Supporting Moms. Of course I tossed it aside because who has time for that? And I don’t need a support group. I’m fine.

But not really.

A couple of weeks after my neighbor’s first visit, our pediatrician’s nurse gave me the same pamphlet. And when I finally sought help from my doctor, at the 10-week mark, she told me to go too.

At that point, I would have flown to Mars for help. Support group, here I come.

When I walked into the room for my first meeting, I struggled to fight back tears. Two hours later, I walked out a changed person. Not healed, but definitely vastly calmer. And more hopeful. And feeling far less alone.

Moms Supporting Moms and Postpartum Education and Support helped save me.

And for the last six years, I’ve been trying to pay it forward.

Next Saturday, Sept. 13, is our organization’s biggest fundraising event of the year, the StrollerThon. I’ll be there with my team — yet to be named by Lily — and I hope you’ll consider registering too.

If you can’t make it, check out the raffle. Seriously. The top prize is a gorgeous Bumbleride stroller, and tickets are only $2 each. You can buy tickets online, and you don’t need to be present to win.

And if you feel like you (or someone you know) might be among the one in seven, please feel free to email me: permendous@gmail.com. If you’re in the Triangle (NC) area, call the Postpartum Education and Support warmline: 919.454.6946. And if you’re not nearby, Postpartum Progress and Postpartum Support International (PSI) are wonderful resources. In fact, PSI can help locate support groups, doctors and other resources in your area. Talking to your doctor is a critical first step. Remember, you are NOT alone. And, most importantly, this WILL get better.

I promise! I’m living proof.

this is three

“Mama,” she shout-whispers in the dark, “scratch my belly.”

It’s been a bad day.

She was three in all her glory today. Attitude, tantrums, stubbornness, poop in her panties mere minutes after I’d tried desperately to get her to use the potty.

I yelled. She cried.

And then no nap.

By 4 o’clock, I was ready to walk out of the house. I threw my hands up, let her out of her bed (where of course she was playing on the stuffed-animal mountain she had busily constructed while she should have been sleeping) and tried my best to calm down. It took a while.

I had grand ambitions for this Friday. I’d work while she slept. Transcribe an interview recording for a story assignment. Start packing for the beach. Vacuum the drifts of dog hair covering every single inch of our house.

That was my mistake. Setting unreasonable goals, then beating myself up when I don’t reach any of them. And I am terrible at letting go of expectations.

Three-year-olds are unpredictable little tornadoes. I do, she undoes. I clean, she dirties. I ask, she ignores.

And then she poops her pants.

But tonight, as we lie in bed and her breathing deepens into sweet little toddler snores, I finally let go.

I listen to the cicadas and other night-bugs making music in the trees. I hear the air conditioning click on and feel the cool air wash over us. Inhale her hair and kiss the top of her head.

And I keep scratching her belly.

She is mine, and I am hers.

No matter how crazy we make each other.

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