Two Months

You’re smiling now and melting my heart,

It’s not long that we’re ever apart.

Your scrunched up nose and sideways smirk

is your newest body of work.

Fans and lights are your favorite sight

and Daddy when he gets home at night!

I see you are plumping up and gaining some rolls!

I kiss you all over and make you “coo” and “oh”.

You love warm water and stretching so long.

I play Christmas songs – you hear me sing along.

I’m learning all about you everyday.

I’m storing up each moment in my memory to stay.

Baby, I love you with all of my might

and watching you grow is a beautiful sight.




Learning to “Mom”

Everyone says motherhood is difficult, exhausting, often thankless work. As a new mother six weeks deep, I have to admit, I tend to agree. Caring for my baby is wonderful work but it is hard work. I have not ventured into this type of selflessness until now. It is new territory for me and probably the most obvious change to my previously childless life. I am charged with the responsibility of meeting my daughter’s every need. She needs me to live (In fact I am nursing her as I write this)! This mom gig is the real deal. 

I am learning how to cope with the loss of my self-absorption pre-baby and hoping to thrive as a mother to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. To do this, I get creative with the crazy things raising a little human throws my way. 

When she cries, sometimes I laugh. That sounds awful, but social norms go out the window when you become a parent. When baby girl is fussy and starts to have a whimpy little cry, I just laugh at her. She will look at me with a face that says “are you not taking me seriously?” and then make another feeble cry attempt, which makes me giggle again. Laughing helps make a a little cry just a little cry and not a big stressor. 

Babies are known for making messes. The most notorious is the poop explosion. I am a regular victim of this natural disaster and it can have the mental and physical impact of a disaster area if you let it. To prevent a complete breakdown and pity party, I manage the calamity by making up a ridiculous song about the extraordinary circumstances of my baby’s diaper. You won’t be hearing this song on the radio anytime soon. 

The most difficult baby responsibility for me is the middle of the night wake up calls. Whether it’s feeding time, diaper changing time, or hiccup time, this mommy is not great at keeping a positive attitude at 3:00 in the morning. That is when things get hard and I just want to cry (very similarly to the baby). Sometimes all I can do is simply stare at my baby’s face and hold her tiny hand and know that even the hard times are a gift. 

Being a mom and learning how to care completely, love deeply, and remain a wonderfully made independent woman takes more grace than I can describe. At times I’m simply making it through the day and on the rare occasion I win first place for “moming” in public. Despite the successes or utter failures, I will continue to make every attempt to survive with a smile in hope that my daughter will become a woman who laughs even in the midst of life’s best messes. 

Aria’s Arrival

This is the post I’ve been waiting to write for the past nine months. I’ve written different versions of this story with my niece and nephew, but this birth story is my own. Waiting for the arrival of your first child is one of those things you anticipate, plan, and over-analyze yet, when it finally begins, it hits you that it is actually happening. All the planning culminates into the Real birth of your Actual child.

The week and a half leading up to labor I was experiencing every. single. symptom. of imminent labor: the plug, the show, cramps, dilation, effacement- you name it, I had it. I was putting my friends and family on high alert. From everything I read, I was bound to go into labor at any moment! This lasted for two weeks until my blood pressure started creeping up, and my doctor scheduled me to be induced on October 11th. The funny thing about October 11th is that it’s my husband’s birthday, and he had been claiming that our daughter would be born on his birthday throughout the entire pregnancy. He was now confident in his prediction with the induction scheduled. At this point, I gave up waiting for labor to begin and accepted I would show up on a predetermined date to have my baby.

On Saturday night October 8th, I gathered up the last of my 39 week energy reservoir and went to watch the Florida State vs. Miami football game at a local sports bar. As most know, I am a diehard FSU football fan, and I did my best to stay calm, cool, and collected as I watched my team battle in a close game against our long time nemesis, Miami. FSU ended up winning the game by blocking an extra point as the clock dwindled in the fourth quarter.

It was only a couple of hours later that my personal overtime of excitement began. I felt the first contraction and thought, “hey, that one was strong…” but again I shrugged it off as just another tease of labor. Then another contraction came and then another. By the third contraction they were occurring five minutes apart, and I was quickly coming to know the intensity of labor pains. I was determined to be a “good” patient and waited the full 45 minutes before dialing the on-call physician who gave her blessing to come into the hospital.

Once admitted I quickly dilated to 6 cm and experienced the shock of my water, not breaking, but BURSTING. That was startling. I  then received the beautiful, wonderful, gracious invention of an epidural and took a NAP. I woke up a little while later to feeling contractions on my left side to which I received more drugs through my marvelous epidural. About 30 seconds later, it was time to push- I was going to meet my baby!

I like when my husband tells the story of me pushing for 30 minutes because he chuckles the whole time. I was so thrilled that I kept laughing and repeatedly saying, “I’m so excited to see her!” between each pushing session. I think the nurses and doctor thought that I was amusing and probably a little crazy.

I remember every detail of that last push and knowing my daughter was entering this world and my life in that moment. The second the doctor placed her on my chest, I became a blubbering hysterical sobbing mother. I was overwhelmed with seeing that little life in front of me. It was like staring at the most beautiful forms of creation: the mountains, rivers, islands and seas all at once, and knowing, this most precious form of creation is personally given to you. The feeling is incredible.


My husband and I were then able to spend time loving our beautiful daughter while sharing what is surely the most memorable moment of our lives.  Our baby’s tribe of supporters soon followed with all the love they could pour out onto such a precious, new baby.

I’m sure my birth story is familiar to innumerable women and many of the sentiments I write have been storied from the beginning of time. But it’s an experience that deserves to be told over and over again because it spreads Love and Gratefulness for an Amazing Creator who gives us the most breathtaking gifts. I am so thankful to have been blessed with the experience of  growing a new life in my body and then having every moment ahead of me to gaze at her perfectly formed face and dark hair and gentle hands. Just as God intended, I am in awe.

Welcome to The World and my world Aria Ray. You are so very loved.


October 9, 2016 at 11:08am

6 pounds 13 ounces, 20 inches long

The Baby Story

Not many stories of adventure start out with a dying need to pee, but this one does. I ran inside after purchasing a pregnancy test from the grocery store as to not waste any of the precious liquid in my bladder threatening to burst. I gave that pregnancy test a good soaking and promptly put it on the window sill only to pace ten feet away. I glanced at my cell phone and promised myself not to look before five minutes had passed. I stood by nervously convincing myself that I surely was not pregnant as to dim the sting of inevitable disappointment. 

My self-imposed five minutes were up, and I cautiously looked over onto the test as one would peer into a chemistry beaker with unknown ingredients. I saw a line. I grabbed the test and stared- to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. It seemed real to me. I looked at the familiar face in the mirror holding a piece of plastic that would change life forever. I smiled, cried, and told myself, “You’re going to have a baby.” I then proceeded to jump around and have a mini mental meltdown as one would expect. 

I quickly chugged more water, peed on another test and watched as the line barely showed- knowing I wasted all that good hormone on the first test. A “barely there” line is still a line. I was convinced enough to jump in the car and find a baby gift to surprise my husband. This should reflect the forethought and planning into the following story of how I broke the news to Justin. 

I came home with the cutest and smallest set of onesies I could find to really drive home the “baby” of the baby announcement. Justin walked in from mowing lawns, and I casually said, “Hey, I went to Marshall’s today and bought you something.” Since I purchase all of Justin’s clothes from Marshall’s, Justin had no other inclination but to think I bought him another half-price Hurley T-Shirt from the discount store. I told him to close his eyes, which I’m sure he thought was weird but obliged as I am frequently weird, and I placed a onesie on his chest that read, “Hi! I’m new here!”  He opened his eyes and quickly realized that this piece of clothing was not his size. I can only describe Justin’s reaction as one of shock as it is so rare to see a disruption in his constant calm, cool demeanor. It took a solid five minutes of me staring at him with my “dumb yet happy” face before he was able to express real sentences of excitement. The rest of the day we just walked around the house with a cheesy grin plastered across our faces like conspirators in a really great inside joke. 

Technically speaking I was four weeks and 2 days gestation so that gave me about a week and half of solid bliss before the tidal wave of nausea, vomiting and exhaustion hit. The first trimester has not been nice to me, and I have a new appreciation of women all over the world who are able to function in normal society when they feel like I have felt (or worse) for a solid 9 weeks. It has been difficult to think about baby shoes, nursery colors, and the like when my one and only focus in life is, “Am I going to throw up now or five minutes from now?” Also, “I’m so tired I could lie down and die.” As a result, I still have SO much to look forward to and focus on like the actual having a baby part of pregnancy.  

Despite a barrage of fears and anxieties, I am inching toward the realization that I am going to be the mother and Justin will be the father of a precious new life. I am also more humbled each and every day over the blessing of health, development, protection and what it takes to make a life in my body. My hope is my heart and my marriage will be prepared over the next six months to welcome a child with the love God has poured into my life. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a mother. I know this will be an amazing adventure unlike any other, and our child will surely be a Wild One.


Camille Annalise

My sister was strolling through Sports Authority in search of tennis shoes when she first felt the tell-tale warm sensation and soon realized she was not peeing her pants. At 35 weeks, my sister’s water broke in the mall with all three children, including the two year old. She calmly, yet quickly, rounded up the troops with, thankfully, a friend’s assistance and drove herself to the hospital in a rental Chrysler Town ‘N Country.

If you remember anything about the last time my sister gave birth to my nephew Crew, she didn’t have time to relax because we all assumed the baby would be delivered within an unnatural 30 minutes or so.

We soon found out that this baby girl had a different plan in mind and preferred to make her momma wait through contractions (like a normal person’s delivery).

My family and I patiently waited into the evening until the three younger boys were ready to fall out from need of sleep. My sweet husband (bless him) took kid duty and my mother, Keanna’s dad, and myself were committed for the long haul.

After a dose and then another of Pitocin, I received a text message around 1:20am that she was 5 cm then about 2 minutes later another that said 7 cm and the final text from my sister which simply stated: “moving very quickly.”

At 1:51am Camille Annalise made a grand entrance into her yet undiscovered world.  And we all immediately fell in love with my family’s first little princess.







DSC_1836 - Version 2





Crew is entirely unsure of what to make of this little squirmy thing. I see jealousy issues in the near future…

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The oldest and the youngest.









A newborn’s cry is the sweetest sound.






Camille Annalise Waldeck

5lbs. 11 oz.

July 30, 2014

Happy Birthday sweet girl!


Traveling Mercies


From the pictures I’ve posted on social media (i.e. Facebook and Instagram), my recent trip to Panama appeared to be a picturesque vacation filled with relaxation and pure joy. It was that, but it was also so much more. Some of the best memories made on vacation are the ones including language failures, commuting dilemmas, and occasional cultural miscommunications. I am a magnet for moments of awkward, clumsy interactions in my own country. Therefore, Panama did not lack opportunities for Lauren to face plant in social situations. Thankfully my family assisted in making these memories as we do share the same genes. I hope my list of “lol’s” “boo boo’s” and “no, she didn’ts” help you overcome an images of perfection you may have of this week of my life.

1. Immigration and Customs. Those are curse words to the international traveler. The first experience after leaving the plane in an exotic country should not be with immigration officials- personal opinion. I am fluent in Spanglish (meaning I understand half of everything and speak far less), so I led the way through the daunting immigration lines with my fully American husband. I handed my passport to the official and smiled, hoping she would go easy on me. She called Justin’s name first, and he carefully followed instructions as she informed him to place his fingers on the scanning device. I answered some simple questions about our trip and then it was my turn to do fingerprints.

I have weird hands and fingers, okay. I don’t mean they look weird. I just use and hold my hands in a very unique way. Nearly every friend I have has noticed my hand usage and deem it “creepy” “weird” or just laugh as I attempt to do something with my hands. Apparently putting four fingers on a fingerprinting scanner is no exception to my hand’s inability to function. I literally laid my fingers on this darn machine ten to twelve times with the official just staring at me as she repeated the hand motion over and over and over again. My fingers were continually rejected. I tried to place them softly thinking I was “smooshing” the prints, but no.

After extended embarrassment, Justin took my hands and slammed them against the screen and held them there. Voilá. He’s a genius and a little green light popped up. I was able to do my second hand independently. As we walked out of the line the official laughed and shook her head side to side. Silly gringos.

I exited this line only to enter another line of pending doom. I handed the customs official my entrance form. He looked up at me said “Nada!” and crumbled up the customs form. He very abruptly handed me another blank form. I quickly realized my third grade mistake of not turning over to the other side. I secretly fumed to myself because he could have handed me my incomplete form to finish rather than making me start all over. But I wasn’t about to start beef with an international customs man. I hurriedly finished the new form (both sides), and handed it back to him. Justin waited next to me for our judgment. The official briskly explains in Spanish to lay our suitcases flat on the belt for screening. I asked him “Flat?” in English to make sure my Spanglish ears understood what he said, and he looked at me with awe as he answered, “Yes, flat” in perfect English. I think he might have been so hard on me because he thought I understood what I was doing. Nope! I’m just a confused tourist that looks Panamanian!

2. Driving. If you’ve ever traveled in a large international city you may understand when I say “No Road Rules.” We packed into our rental car and braced ourselves for the traffic to come. It’s been ten years since my dad has driven in the city, and we all knew that lanes, lights, stop signs are largely ignored, but simultaneously you could get ticketed at any moment by a police officer for the very thing no one does. The only way I know how to describe the traffic in Panama City is to imagine you are in a video game driving without knowing how to get anywhere, all the while dodging speeding cars and pedestrians. Except it’s real life. Throughout our trip we stopped and asked for directions countless times. When I say “we” I actually mean my dad because he is the only one able to speak Spanish fluently. Locals are not great at giving directions because A. they don’t name streets B. every person gives you different directions C. “oh you won’t miss it” always means we’d miss it. We had a running joke throughout the trip in which we would tell each other, “Oh just look for the ramp!” and all laugh at the ridiculousness of it because there was either no ramp or five ramps. I am honestly shocked we didn’t run into anything or anyone. It was like one big game of bumper cars while spending lots of time being lost but somehow still going in circles.


3. Horses. Once we reached my cousin’s home in El Valle, we were able to relax and focus on enjoying our vacation time. My dad, Justin and I decided to go horseback riding through the mountains as our “town adventure.” My mother was far less excited to go on this adventure than we were, and she basically came because we were all going. After driving in circles (of course) to find this “horseback riding venue” we finally found some local horses tied to a tree. We had to holler at some random people for the owner and operator to come outside and do business. Dad haggled our riding price and requested a guide for the trail. My mom attempted to get on her horse and the hilarity began. With assistance my mom was on the horse and immediately the horse started having his way. This has happened both times my mom has been on a horse and she is convinced she always gets the “dumb horse.” Others beg to differ.

Literally the entire ride my mother struggled with this horse stopping to eat, walking in the wrong direction, and peering over cliffs. We could hear the “WOAH WOAH WOAH WHAT’S THIS HORSE DOING!?” behind us the whole way which kept us entertained. The guide was attached to my mom the entire ride. There is video footage.

After completing our amazing two hour ride through the mountain, over creeks, and up steep inclines, I carefully dismounted my horse. I quickly realized my knee was displaced. There is another thing about my funny body I must disclose. My legs go in starting from my hips to my knees, it’s their natural shape. Some call it being “knobby knee’d”. This is Not good for horseback riding despite my great love for it. I had to walk around for a solid five minutes before my knee started to pivot at the right angle again. I also knew I would have a “scrape” on my leg from where the top of the stirrup continually rubbed my skin. Scrape is an understatement. I had a full on leather burn that will leave a scar to tell this story for the rest of my days. Then, the bruises. I had legit, black and blue, can’t sit down on a pillow bruises on my seat for the entirely of the trip. I would do it all over again though, bruises and all.

I later asked my mom, “Was that the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?” She responded, “uh, yea.”


4. Food. So many good stories about food: ordering it, eating it, trying to explain what we want. Our family members said next time we need to bring a list because my mom has a shellfish allergy, my dad is lactose intolerant, and I can’t eat gluten. Luckily, Panamanian food largely uses corn, rice, fruit, and fish. And BOY was it delicious!

One thing not to do in a foreign country is to eat buffet chicken at the equivalent of a Wal-Mart. I’ll spare you that story.

My mom ordered red wine on a couple occasions at different restaurants. The server brought out a glass of wine and she immediately gasped as she grabbed the glass. I looked at her as she said, “It’s cold!!” I responded “so.” and that was when I learned that you cannot, I mean absolutely CANNOT drink red wine cold. News to me! My dad then had to ask the server to leave her glass of wine out so it could become room temperature. We became “those” people. This exact situation happened two more times during our trip and my mom via my dad would ask the server to go through steps to make the wine room temp. Finally, Justin created the best line of the trip. While using’s my mother’s voice he announced: “Can you bring me an ice cube, but melted!?”

These are the memories we will laugh at for years to come and there are so many more! The best times during vacation are the fun moments you share, and for my family that means the embarrassing, frustrating, and clumsy moments. Luckily, we are great at making these situations happen. It’s always better when you make a fool of yourself in a beautiful, tropical country because there is a piña colada right around the corner. Back to being jealous 🙂