Tuesday, November 23

Laila's Big Debut

So, the crazy part is... We were in and out in 20 minutes.
First, let me tell you how it all went down. Then, I'll share with you my personal observations.

Before that, a picture, just so you know what we're working with here:

So, Laila and I arrived at the JC Penney headquarters at 8:45am. We went through security, got a visitor's badge, navigated our way down to the studio (with the help of another mom and model baby) and joined several parents and babies in the lobby area. All the other moms brought a husband with them. Interesting. A family affair! Well, L and I were on our own, except for the double stuffed diaper bag. Y'all. I had everything I could have possibly needed. I was prepared for an earthquake! Teething medicine, extra outfits, baby Tylenol, toys, diapers, wipes, nail clippers (in case she got a hang nail!), hairbrush, lotion... the whole nine. Turns out, we didn't need a bit of it but "better to have and not need than to need and not have", right?

I immediately noticed that there was a couple there with an empty stroller. This certainly caught my attention and caused me a bit of concern. I asked them "uh, where's your baby?" "Back there", they said, and pointed to a set of Huge Metal Doors.

I shuddered. "Without you?!" They looked like this had only just occurred to them... "Yeah. Well... they just asked for him..." In my head I was like, "uh-uh. Ain't no way my baby's going nowhere without ME. Definitely not. No. Way." Out loud I said, very graciously, of course... "Hmm. I think Laila will definitely do better if I go with her." They smiled. I smiled. The other people in the waiting room smiled. Awkward.

There were 2 families with little girls who, after we talked a bit, I found out were Laila's age. L was definitely the hugest of the three and (do y'all mind if I say this?) um, yes, the cutest.

There was a baby boy and his mother in the lobby as well but, unfortunately (and this could happen to anyone), he got cut, meaning that they decided not to use him. Apparently, they had been late and there was no mercy. When the lady came out to see if the girls were all there, she noticed he and his mother and briskly said, "We're finished with boys. Thank you. Goodbye." Ouch. And that was the mom who had shown me where to go. I tried to give her a reassuring smile as she packed up her things and left. Sad.

Turns out, you can get cut for all sorts of things. Having teeth they didn't expect, cuts or bruises on the baby's face, too much or too little hair, crying... these people mean business.

The Brisk Lady dissapeared behind the Big Metal Doors and Another Lady came out. She had a kind face. This made me feel a little better. She took one look around the room, pointed at Laila and said, "I'll take her". "Oh no you won't take her, lady. I'll take her" went through my mind, all "better feelings" out the window. Out loud, I said, very graciously, of course, "I think Laila will definitely do better if I go with her." I smiled. She smiled. I wondered if in her mind she was rolling her eyes. But, I mean, give me a break! This is my first time! Who the heck knows whats behind those Big Metal Doors?! It's called Responsible Parenting! Are you kidding me?!

ANYWAY, we went back to the studio where Another Lady took Laila from me and started taking off her outfit. Then Another Lady came with a dress (very cute, by the way... rainbow stripes, a collar, precious) and started putting it on her. Another Lady came and started smoothing Laila's hair. Needless to say, LG was, like, "Mom! What's going on?" and I was reaching over and around all the ladies to pat her hand and smile at her and say, "Isn't this fun?" :)

Unfortunately, she cried. This was distressing for me, not because I was afraid we'd get cut, although, honestly, who wants that after you've gotten up, dressed and carted yourself, your 6 month old and the over stuffed diaper bag to Plano? I was distressed because I didn't want her to be distressed. We decided a long time ago that, if it's not fun for her, we're not going to do it. Totally not worth it. All the ladies fussing over her was definitely lowering the Fun Factor.

After she was dressed and I got to hold her for a couple of minutes, she stopped crying and went with one of the Ladies for a "look over" from (I guess) the Lady In Charge who, without smiling, took one look at Laila and said "she's good". I wanted to say "Your darn right she's good, Lady! She's better than good! SHE'S PERFECT!" Again, blog readers, you have the benefit of hearing my Inner Monologue. All she got from me was a smile.

I don't really want to be That Mom, you know?

So, one of the Ladies took Laila and I down a dark hallway and into the studio. There were bright lights, a ton of cameras and computer screens and lots of people standing around wearing tall boots, skinny jeans, lots of jewelery and lots of scarves. They were very posh, you see. And they each had looks on their faces that said "This is just where I am until I get my big break and start doing this stuff in NYC... I'm big time. Really. I'm just tolerating all of this until people realize how Awesome I Am."

The Dressing Lady sat Laila down on the white concrete floor in front of the camera and I realized... Oh, This is IT. They're going to take pictures of her now. I mean, there was no prep or pep talk or anything. Just sit down and smile. Well, that's how it was supposed to go. But, y'all, LG, apparently, had decided that she was Not Going To Smile. My baby, who smiles all the time and at everyone, was not having it! The Dressing Lady was tickling her, holding up a bunny, dancing around, playing peek-a-boo and, in every picture, Laila was making this face:

Until... I said, "Um. Excuse me, can I sing?" The Dressing Lady, realizing her attempts were futile, said, "Sure!" So, I started with a couple rounds of "You are my sunshine" and wrapped it up with "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "This is the way the lady rides..." Well, that did it. She perked up, cracked a couple of smiles, leaned forward in her cute way and "thatsawrap.thanksalot.seeyounexttime.thiswayout."

It was really amazing. All that way and all that singing and dancing and peek-a-booing and sweating (well, I was sweating) for one little smile in one little dress. Wow.

Another Lady (previously unmentioned) walked us out. On the way, she gushed about how beautiful Laila was and how great she did. I was really surprised. Hardly any smiling and she thought Laila was perfect! "Did you catch a glimpse of her on the screen?" she asked, "She was stunning!" I was thinking, "Lady, you don't even know how cute she is! She had barely gotten started!" Out loud, I said, "Thank you" and smiled. I smiled a lot. I mean, what else could I do?

A few observations:
1. How could it possibly be better to take the babies behind the Metal Doors without their mamas? I mean, how could that possibly elicit better smiles, happier babies?? I know that they are the professionals but, seriously, Laila would have FLIPPED OUT if I hadn't been with her... and there certainly wouldn't have been any smiling going on!

2. Next time, I think I'll ask if I can dress her. Starting off with the three ladies and all their fussing over her and the crying and all really hurt the whole "Smile for the camera" thing that was supposed to happen later.

3. I was shocked at how quickly the whole thing went... and how they only wanted one smile in one dress. I was wondering if we had gotten axed or if they had decided they just didn't want any more shots of her but then I heard that it was normal to be in and out. Hmm.

So, that's how it went down, ladies and gentlemen.
And, an hour after we got home, we received an email that they want her back next week. Great. I think we'll give it another try.

Laila is our precious, darling 6 month old baby... and, turns out, she is now a professional baby model. But, don't worry. We won't let it go to her head.


Friday, October 15

Over Coffee

So, I'm not really surprised... Ok, hold on. Y'all. 4 years and an English degree from SMU and I still struggle with how to spell that word... "surprise" and also the word "restaurant". Whenever I see those two words printed (I've never admitted this to anyone), I seriously try to memorize the spelling in order to minimize my struggle the next time I need to type them and, alas, I still sit in agony as I type, wishing that blogger had spell check and kicking myself for not remembering how to spell these two dumb words! AND then I start breaking out in cold sweats, remembering how I got to the district spelling bee in 6th grade and misspelled the word "penguin" in front of the whole school district and God and everyone! I spelled it "penquin" because, well, I'm very visual, you see... and, in my mind, the "g" looked like a "q"... It was an honest mistake, really. And shouldn't they give you, like, a second chance? I mean, one stinking word and all of that practice and effort and emotional energy is just wasted cause of one tiny little letter. A second chance would have been nice, people! I mean, really! Penguin. Restaurant. Surprised. Wait, where am I? What was I saying?

Oh yes, so, I wasn't really surprised today when this happened but I'm not so sure what to think about it!

Laila and I, during our routine trip to Starbucks (in our pj's this morning, mind you), were approached by a talent scout for a modeling agency!

Here's how the story goes...

Laila and I were just drinking our coffee and playing, minding our own business, when I noticed a handsome, well dressed man checking us out. He smiled, I smiled. I didn't really think much of it because this happens to us often. People are attracted to Laila's beautiful blue eyes and shining personality and I am happy to be her Representation. People say, "and how old are you?" and I say (speaking for her, of course) "I'm 5 months old!" and then they say "and what is your name?" and I say, "Laila Grace. It's nice to meet you" and, all the while, the person never makes eye contact with me because they are having a conversation with the baby, you see. I'm just her Manager. I don't mind this one bit. It's fun. I'm like a ventriloquist! (Look, I can spell "ventriloquist" and I can't spell "penguin".)

So, the handsome man came over to the condiment bar near where we were sitting and asked me how old she was. He actually addressed me, my friends. I had to remind myself, "Okay, you're talking as you this time. Grown up voice." I told him that she was 5 months old and then he asked if she could sit up on her own. I thought that question was a little odd but I answered it, saying "well, she's very close. She totters..." which is true, y'all! She's almost there!

So, then, he proceeds to tell me that he is a talent scout for a modeling agency and that, with her beautiful face and sweet demeanor, she would be a perfect baby model! He gave me his info and told me that, if I was interested, I should call the agency.
I thanked him and he went on his merry way.

This left me to ponder. I have to be honest and tell you that I had thought of this before. I mean, my daughter is The Most Beautiful Girl Ever, you know... but, truly, I told myself, everyone thinks their daughter is The Most Beautiful Girl Ever so I consulted a second opinion. My mother. "Mom, don't you think that Laila is way cuter than any Pottery Barn Baby model you've ever seen???" "Oh, absolutely!" she said. And then the thought occured to me that, perhaps, she wasn't really an objective opinion either. So, for an actual Professional Person who knows about Cute Babies to say that she's "got it", well, I was flattered.

Know my heart, friends. I'm not, like, all "See how amazing my baby is, blog world?!" I'm more, like, "blog world, is this a good idea?" On one hand, moolah in the college fund is a great idea! On the other hand, I don't want to be one of Those Moms and I certainly don't want Laila to end up like Mary Kate and Ashley!

Thoughts? Opinions? Personal experiences you'd like to share?

Something to look at while you think...

Honest opinions are the order of the day.


Thursday, October 7

Oh, the places you'll go!

We've been all over the place, y'all! And the good news is... We packed our camera.
Check it out!

Beautiful Pensacola Beach

The Chapmans on Pensacola Beach

Now, a word on hopes and dreams.
Sometimes, when you have hopes and dreams, they get dashed against the rocks. Do you see the above pictured sailor outfit worn by Laila Grace? Yes, that was given to us before our little darling was born. The trip to Pensacola was planned before she was born. SO, since before she was born, I've been envisioning a photo album full of pictures of my happy baby in her beautiful sailor outfit on Pensacola Beach with her already skinny mom and always dashing (that part actually worked out) father smiling sweetly at the camera, hair in place, sun setting perfectly in the background...

This didn't quite happen. Laila was not having it. I was not skinny. Nevertheless, we are on the beach and Laila is wearing the sailor outfit and a couple of them did turn out pretty adorable.

The occasion for our trip to Pensacola was our dear friend Patrick McBride's wedding. Here's a photo of he and his beautiful bride, Jessica.

They are completely perfect for each other and we are SO happy for them. We commented on this several times in the course of the week but it's really amazing when you have a close friend and that person marries someone who is totally great and then you can continue your close friendship with them but, like, as married couples, you know? Priceless.

This is why I feel compelled to be intimately involved in choosing Barry, Alicia and Clay's respective spouses... cause I'm gonna have to live with this person too! :)

We also had an amazing time with Chris and Kelly Reeser who we stayed with on the beach. Kelly is one of my best friends from college and it was PRECIOUS to finally be able to introduce her to Laila. They were instant BFFs. Here's a photo of Kel and I at Pat's wedding.

And here's one of Laila and I at the wedding... (The sailor outfit makes it's second appearance)

Don't you just want to kiss those cheeks??? It's overwhelming, y'all. Really. I don't know how I get anything else done.

After we got home from Florida, our darling friends Katie and Jay came to visit from Pennsylvania. Katie is another one of my best friends from college who also had not yet met Laila... so, I mean, it was kind of an emotional couple of weeks because it meant so much to me to be able to share Laila with these girls and visa versa, to share them with her.

It's, like, complete agony that we all live so far apart... but it makes these times together that much more special. Praise God for sweet friends and travel budgets.

Katie and Jay were here for Laila's first bout with solid food. Observe the carnage.

Actually, it wasn't really too messy. Laila's personality is so dainty and feminine. Truly, it was like she didn't want to get messy.

The next day Katie and Jay, Laila, Trev and I all went to the Pumpkin Village at the Arboretum. It was glorious!

Well, that's all for now, folks!
Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, September 14

Roses and Bell Peppers

Sometime about five months ago, I posted as a status update on facebook, "Chelsea Chapman is sitting by an open window, sewing and drinking a cup of hot tea. Is this really my life?" I typed those words with a contented sigh, reflecting on how grateful I was for such a sweet moment.

Almost instantly, my cozy little status update was bombarded with things like, "oh, you better enjoy that while it lasts" and "just wait till that baby comes" and "last one of those for a few years". In essence, many of my facebook friends (mostly moms) were implying that the birth of my baby girl would be the end of such quiet time and that I could look forward to another such moment in about 18 years.

And, yet... here I sit on my comfy couch, in my relatively clean living room looking at a beautiful bouquet of pink roses, reading a book and munching on some red bell pepper. This is a tender moment. This is a quiet moment. But the difference between that moment 5 months ago and this moment today is that, upstairs, a beautiful darling 4 month old baby girl is sleeping in her crib. For as long as she sleeps, I will enjoy my book and my roses and my bell pepper and, when she wakes up, the smile that she rewards me with will far outshine those things.

To all of my sweet friends who are about to have new babies... and there are several of you, praise God... Know that your life will absolutely be utterly changed. You may not be able to spend all afternoon wandering around the used book store, sitting at your sewing machine, watching your favorite shows or shopping at the mall but what you will spend your time doing will be far more valuable to you and the world that will be impacted as a result of the loving investments you make in your baby.

I just wanted to say these things and attempt, with these few words, to balance so much of what new mommies hear from old mommies. Your life, your sense of self, the things you love to do will not disappear from existence. They'll just change a bit. And that's ok. I'm no pro, that's for sure... and I only have 4 months and 1 week of experience, but those 4 months and 1 week have been some of the best days of my life. For you, I believe, the best is yet to come.

So, here's to tender moments, however and with whomever they arrive.


Friday, August 20

Shoulda Been A Cowboy

I have a future in country music. It's undeniable. See below.

1. Kristian Bush (of Sugarland), Uncle Kracker and I all share the same taste in sunglasses. Yes, we all sport the gold rimmed Cockpit Aviator Ray-Bans. See below.

(I'm crazy about Sugarland, by the way. And this video is hilarious.)

(The author of this blog does not agree with Uncle Kracker on a variety of matters, nor does she promote his music... just his taste in sunglasses.)

(Me - just before the baby was born.)

2. Brad Paisley and I both love paisley. Paisley Leather is my blog, my baby's room is pink paisley, it's his last name and he has sweet paisley guitars. See below.

3. A lady at the grocery store last week told me that I look like a young Trisha Yearwood. I took this as a compliment, of course, and politely thanked her. I can see what she means; our coloring, our cheek bones, our propensity toward chubbiness... However, I think we can all agree that that is not my nose. See below.

My nose looks more like this person's nose. See below.

Like how I wrapped up this perfectly mindless blog post with a photo of Laila Grace? Cause she's what really matters. Someday perhaps I'll seek fame and fortune through a shining career in country music. For now, though, I'll just keep singing to Laila... and look forward to the day when she sings along.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 12

The Day I Ran From the Girl Scouts

But, first, a word from our sponsors... AKA, another riveting series of lessons in the ongoing saga, Adventures in Motherhood!

1). Everyone... and I do mean everyone has an opinion. Laila's grandmothers, my grandmothers, random grandmothers, friends with babies, friends without babies, grocery store check out people, even the occasional bachelor friend seems to have an opinion. Controversial topics in which people feel the need to share their opinion include, but are not limited to:

a. Sleep Training: ie, To "let her cry it out" or to not "let her cry it out", that is the question.
b. Natural or Normal: ie, making one's own formula, wipes, baby toys, using cloth or disposable diapers, using only California Baby-no paraben-chemical free-sensitive skin-unscented baby wash or using the good ole Johnson and Johnson's, using organic cotton crib sheets or regular ole 100 thread count crib sheets from Target... the list goes on and on, my friends.
c. Vaccinations: No explanation needed but I will say, in all seriousness, that this one has me stumped. There are "experts" on both sides of the issue who act as though their way will save your child from early death! It's too much for me! I'm a bleary eyed, second guessing, opinion sorting new mom, people! I'm overwhelmed as it is!
d. The Use or Non-Use of the Pacifier and, for the record, we use it. Boy, do we. We use it with glee.

2). Murphy's Law Applies

Okay, so I'm actually not totally sure what Murphy's Law is. I just know people are always chalking things up to "Murphy's Law" and saying things like, "well, that's just Murphy's Law", etc. etc. Here's out it plays out in my life. No matter if she ate two hours ago, no matter if she already spit up half of what I fed her, no matter if she hasn't actually spit up in days, if I put Laila down on my gold silk duvet, she will spit up. Murphy's Law, people. Murphy's Law.

3). Vocabulary is Key.
For example, when I lay down with Laila at naptime and get really still and close my eyes, I'm simply modeling for her how it's done. It's not called "napping", my friends. It's called "Leading by Example". See? It's just a matter of using the right vocabulary.

And, now for the Girl Scout story.

On Monday, Laila and I needed to make a quick trip to Kroger. We only had a short grocery list and I expected to be in and out. No problem.
When we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a big white tent and all manner of sashed and vested little girls loitering around. Having been a Girl Scout dropout myself, I immediately recognized the green and brown and, truly, who could mistake that tell tale Peter Pan hat that some of them wear? In true chubby girl fashion, my first thought was cookies and I wondered if I had any cash. Then, as I looked closer, I saw that there were none of those brightly colored boxes stacked up and no signs or posters announcing a cookie sale. Slightly dissapointed but eager to find a parking spot, I moved on, not giving those do gooding scouts another thought.

Laila and I parked, grabbed a basket and started out in the produce department like always. Well, by the time we got to the cereal aisle, I knew that Laila had done some Business in her diaper. Not only can I tell by the smell, which is kind of hideous (seriously, how does someone so adorable have the capacity to emit such a nasty odor?), but I can tell because Laila works, I mean, really works to accomplish this feat. I've asked the pediatrician and he said that she's not constipated... just dramatic (wonder where she gets that) and she never cries so I don't really worry about it anymore. Instead, I usually have to laugh... because, well, she turns red. Really red. Like, that baby in The Incredibles who turns into a fire ball.

When she's 12, nobody tell her I posted this picture on the Internet, okay?
You promise?

So... as you can see, it's kind of hard to miss.
Also, she really only goes once a day, sometimes only once every couple of days so it's always, hmm... how shall I say?... full. This is not one of those "just wait till we get home" kind of situations so, off we went to the Kroger restroom. I parked the buggy outside the door, threw the diaper bag over my shoulder, grabbed the car seat by the handle and opened the bathroom door. The little girl chitter chatter that I heard while I was parking the buggy ceased completely. Twelve little girl heads all turned from what they were doing and stared at me, one particularly pretty little blonde Scout standing in the middle of it all crying dramatically. Twenty four little eyes looked at me as if to say, "Excuse us! We're in the middle of something here!" I was literally shoo'ed by their expressions. I stared back at them for a moment, scanning the crowd for one who would be sympathetic to my cause and initiate the parting of the waters but no such little advocate was found. I was clearly on their turf and they weren't budging.
"Uh, sorry." I said, as I backed out the way I came in. As the door shut behind me, I noticed that the girls resumed their coddling of The Pretty One, patting her back, stroking her ponytail and saying, "It's going to be okay".

The scene took me back to my Elementary school days when there were definitely clearly established identities among us. There was a Pretty One, a Smart One, a Nerdy One, an Athletic One... and, just like in that Kroger bathroom, anytime drama befell the Pretty One, all of us Other Ones rushed to her aid, wanting to be the One who was most comforting, most helpful, truly, wanting to be the One who was most involved. I thought about how, in Elementary school, I was probably labeled the Nice One, which, as I considered it, wasn't too shabby. Lots of times I wished I was the Pretty One, the Well Dressed One or the Athletic One but that just wasn't my lot.

As I changed Laila's poopy diaper on the backseat of my car in the Kroger parking lot, I started to think about which One she might become. My hope is that she will be the Kind One, the Gracious One, the Funny One and the Loving One but, most importantly, I pray that God will show me how to teach her that her identity doesn't depend on what she's labeled or what others think of her. I pray that she will know her worth as a Daughter of the King, a precious Child of God and that she will love others in a way that helps them recognize that about themselves as well.

Whew. As a Mother/Daughter team, we have a lot ahead of us. I'm humbled by all that God is going to use me to teach her. God, equip us for this journey. Make me a godly leader as we go. Prepare the way, Lord. I'm trusting you. Hold my hand, Father... especially if she chooses to be a Girl Scout.


Friday, August 6

A Resolution regarding Water Balloons

Hello Pals. Happy Friday!

Today, I'm making a resolution. One I'd like to share with you.
This morning, I saw a commercial in which a mother and her children were having a water balloon fight. They looked like they were just livin it up; water splashing everywhere, laughter and sunshine, smiles all around... and I thought "Oh, isn't that nice..."

(Looks like fun, huh?)

and then...

Thirty minutes later, when I was driving down Skillman Ave toward my favorite Target, I had a startling realization. You have to really throw a water balloon at someone in order for it to pop. I mean, you have to put some muscle behind that thing! AND... if it doesn't pop, it kind of just hurts the person that you threw it at.
All of a sudden, the commercial wasn't so cute anymore. In fact, I thought, "That mom was totally rude!"

So, today I declare to you that I will never ever have a water balloon fight with my children. Laila and whoever else comes along, I can't guarantee that you'll never get hit with a water balloon but, little darlings, I can assure you that you'll never get hit with one thrown by me.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 4

Adventures in Babys... oops, I mean... I'm the Mom.

These are lessons I've learned since becoming a Mommy... brought to you (and me) courtesy of one Laila Grace Chapman.

1. Moms can steal anything.
If the police catch wind of this blog, don't worry, my friends... I'll be fine. I know a guy. So, up till now, I've unintentionally stolen one yellow bell pepper and one can of black beans. Those thieves who put things under their shirts or stash a pilfered item in their backpack are so elementary. Don't they know? All they have to do is put a baby in a car seat and put that car seat in the grocery cart. Whatever they want to steal they can just "accidentally" miss when they are putting their items on the conveyer belt at the checkout stand!

Now, in the case of yours truly, I promise that these items were stolen by actual accident... the simple truth being that I didn't realize until loading the car that the can of beans had rolled underneath the car seat and thereby didn't make it onto the conveyer belt. By that point, I had already loaded all the other groceries into the car and was heaving the car seat into the base in the awful Texas heat, while my child is fussing because she's had to grocery shop all morning and the cart is threatening to roll away and smash the Lexus parked next to me. Both times, I've just left the items in the cart and gone on with my pursuit of getting home before my child loses all patience and attempts a mutiny. (Attempts to mutinize? Hmm...)

Anyway, I saw this episode of Oprah once (I've seriously, maybe seen, like 6 episodes of Oprah in my entire life...) where these totally normal seeming suburban moms are kleptomaniacs under cover. I remember one woman explaining that she just became addicted to the rush of getting away with it. In the case of the black beans, I got into the car remembering this lady on Oprah and thinking... "Oooh, I got away with it!" but... then... it wasn't really that exciting to me. I think that's a good thing. So, I don't think this is going to become a habit. In fact, today, I was kind of ridiculous about checking every nook and cranny of my grocery cart. Still, a lesson learned. Moms can steal anything. So steal away, Moms! But don't tell 'em I told you how. (wink wink)

2. It is possible to truly, genuinely sing praises to the Lord with the back end of a pacifier in your mouth.

I'm speaking from experience. This totally happened to me. And the crazy part is... I have become so accustomed to having the back side of a pacifier in my mouth that I didn't even realize I was doing it! I was literally singing out loud... Only "Nothing but the blood" sounded like "nutting buh da bud".

3. When you think that you are literally physically incapable of getting out of bed one more time at 4am to rock the child that you just rocked to sleep at 3am, you're wrong. You are. You just get up and do it. I would like to say that you are miraculously filled with joy, compassion, empathy and energy when you get up to do it but that's not always quite right... Still, you do it. It's kind of amazing how something just rises up in you. I think it's something akin to grit. Like, when that boulder fell on that guy when he was hiking and he just chewed his own arm off. Yeah, grit like that!

4. When you're at the pediatrician's office and the form asks for the "Mother's Name", that's not your mother's name. That's your name.

Yes, my friends, I wrote "Donna Golden" and then I realized... Oh wait. I'm the mother. Dang. In that moment, it became really real to me and I almost cried. If pushing an 8 pound baby out of your body doesn't make you realize you're a mommy, going to the pediatrician's office sure will!

These are just a few of the lessons I've learned so far. Stay tuned for more lessons learned through the adventures of mommyhood!

Until then, I'll leave you with a bit more of the irresistible adorableness I experience everyday:

Thursday, July 22


Whoa, friends. Whoa.
Let me just tell you something about Motherhood... Well, it can't be summed up in a word. It takes several.
Motherhood is, for me...

De-powering (Is that a word? I just made it up. Work with me, people. I have an English degree... The only thing I'm qualified to do is make up words.)
Super Fun
Not for the faint of heart
All-Consuming - heart, mind, body, strength...
A Great Adventure
A Guessing Game
24/7... for the rest. of my. life.

In short, exactly what I was created to do. And I love it.
Laila Grace is my baby sunshine and I can't wait for everything that is to come.

Saturday, May 29

The Events Concerning the Arrival of Laila Grace Chapman

First, a photo... cause I know that's really why you've dropped by... and, hey, I don't blame ya!

Don't you just want to eat her up?! I love those cheeks!!

Dear, dear readers and friends, I am so sorry that I have kept you out of the loop! Yes, I'm blogging about not blogging (I swore to give that up entirely) but I can't help it. I know I've neglected you and I offer my sincerest apology.

Here's the scoop, in the form of the letter I wrote to our childbirth class:

Hello dear friends,

It was so fun to read Abbey and Kira's birth stories and to hear about how well Judson and Luna came out! Congratulations to you four! We're so grateful that things went so well for you... :)

Trevor and I are happy to report that Laila (pronounced LY-la) Grace was born May 10, 2010 at 3:05pm. She weighed 8lbs exactly and was 20 inches... I still can't believe that all of that baby actually fit into my tummy! I went into labor at about 10:30pm on May 9 (my birthday and Mother's Day). We knew I was in labor because the contractions became more frequent and were stronger each time. The first stage of labor lasted a few hours so Trev and I dozed and watched movies on the couch until the contractions were coming about 6 minutes apart. We didn't want to be in the throes of the worst part of labor in the car on the way to Denton so we left our house about 4am. Once we arrived at the hospital, the nurse tested to see if my water had broken... I was sure it hadn't because there had been no gush but the test came back positive! Once we were checked in at the hospital, things progressed more quickly and, after a total of 16 hours, Laila made her appearance at 3:05pm! (Kira, 4 hours, girl?! That is amazing!)

The most helpful position for me was to stand and "slow dance" with Trevor. That way, he and I were close, which was an enormous comfort to me, and I was able to squat down into the contraction as it came on. If we could offer any piece of advice, it would be to have someone else there to help you... a doula or a friend you trust and feel comfortable with. Especially when things got really difficult during transition, we were so grateful to have our friend Jenny to help us. Just having an extra set of hands made a difference when I needed a cool compress on my head but also needed massage on my lower back.

What happened next is a bit distressing but, before you read it, I want you to know that my midwife has delivered 3,000 babies and has never seen this happen to anyone but me. I was hesitant to even share this part of our story because I didn't want to cause anyone to be afraid but, friends, it is SO rare and Bryan convinced me that you would want to hear it. SO... here goes.

At some point during labor... the assumption is that it was while I was pushing... I managed to rupture one of the two internal illiac branches of my femoral artery . This caused, over the course of an hour and a half after delivery, a gallon of internal bleeding to fill my pelvis which was (ohmygosh) the worst pain of my life. Seriously, it was worse than labor. It took several hours for 2 OB's, a Vascular Surgeon, a Gastro Intestinal Specialist and my midwife, Holly, to decide, first, what was happening and, second, what to do about it. During this time, I was in terrible pain and my father, mother and Trevor took turns holding my hand. Eventually, the doctors were able to give me morphine and I was able to relax a bit while they decided what course of action should be taken. I went into emergency surgery at about 10pm that evening and not even the doctors knew what they would find. What they discovered was that the gallon of blood that had leaked into my pelvis had settled into a softball sized hematoma (sp?) that had situated itself between my rectum and vaginal wall. Clearly, this was the reason for all the pain. They didn't feel comfortable removing it or draining it for fear of causing an infection so, instead, the vascular surgeon used a tiny camera scope inserted through the major artery in my upper thigh to find the source of the bleeding. In order to stop the flow of blood, he inserted a tiny coil which I will now have inside of me for the rest of my life. :) This is truly miraculous to us and we are so thankful to God for the technology that was available at the hospital. When I came out of surgery, I still had the hematoma (I still have it now) but, thankfully, it was no longer being fed by the blood leakage.

After surgery, I was in ICU for 3 and a half days and had to get 3 blood transfusions to replace what I had lost into my pelvis. Thankfully, Laila was able to be with us for most of the time that we were in ICU and, while I was in surgery, Trevor got to be there for her first bath and her footprints, etc. This is another piece of advice I would give: Stress in your birth plan that, if an emergency were to occur, that Daddy (or birth coach) should go with baby. Even though I was SO out of it because of the pain and the pain medicine, I was comforted going into surgery knowing that, even though I couldn't be with Laila, Trevor was with her.

After 3 and a half days in ICU, we were so grateful to be moved down to the second floor of the hospital... the "happy floor", the postpartum floor! There, we received excellent care and Laila was able to room in with us all the time. This was such a relief after being in ICU and, to this day, we sing the praises of the nurses and doctors who took care of us!

All in all, we were in the hospital 11 days. We've been home now for just over a week and, while I'm still recovering... in a bit of pain, taking several medications, etc., we're doing very well.

The thing that I am MOST grateful for in all of this is that Laila was out before any of the trauma occurred inside my body. I believe that God spared her from enduring any of what happened inside of me and I'm so happy to report that she is healthy and beautiful and as happy as can be. All I could think of while I was in ICU was that I was so grateful it was me and not her who was there.

Attached you'll find some photos of us... :) Thank you to all of you for being our childbirth buddies and for your support and encouragement! Linda, the instruction we received from you was priceless and we will most certainly recommend your class! Thank you for everything! We look forward to hearing all of your birth stories as well and will pray for you in the meantime!

For Love,
Trevor, Chelsea and Baby Laila Grace

Thursday, May 6

Not About Laila. Not A Bit.

Greetings, my friends!
This blog is coming to you live from my second home, the Starbucks at Knox and Henderson... More specifically, it is coming to you courtesy of my Birthday and Mother's Day present, a new MacBook, officially named "Jumanji" by Clay and Co. this very morning!

Isn't Jumanji that kind of weird movie about jungle animals, starring Robin Williams?

Hmm... we may need to rethink this one.

Let me tell you, people, I love this thing! As my sweet friend Liz so eloquently put it, "Once you go Mac, you never go back"... I've only had this computer for 3 days but I'm thinking the girl's on to something.
Here's a picture of Liz and me at my wedding... Yes, she's as brilliant as she looks...

Anyway, this is the only "new arrival" to speak of at the moment because our Sweet Laila is Taking Her Sweet Time. After all that drama, she's decided she likes it in there and is going to stay awhile. The thought occured to me this morning that perhaps she's playing a little game of Hard To Get. Like, maybe if we don't make a big deal of her coming, like, if we don't really talk about her for awhile and we yawn and say things like, "Oh, whenever, Laila... We're in no hurry out here! Just come when you like! Oh, you want to stay a few days past your due date? We don't mind a bit. Just hang out, baby...", maybe she'll decide she wants to surprise us and go ahead and come on! See? It's called "Reverse Psychology" and parents use it on their children all the time. I'm just getting started early.

Besides that, there's the whole theory about a watched pot never boiling, etc, etc... It's really not true, though. The pot always boils... eventually... and, eventually, this child must come out, right? Right!

So, as a part of my Reverse Psychology scheme, from here on out, until this post is posted, there will be no talking about Laila. None. So don't even try to bring her up. We're talking about Other Things.

I'm not ashamed to tell you that I spent some time watching country music videos this morning. Sure did. And it got me thinking...

Did ya'll know that I'm a Country Girl At Heart? I really, truly am. Sure, I appreciate the conveniences of the city. Clearly, I love the opportunity to get a perfectly crafted decaf iced grande soy americano any time I like, on the corner of practically any major intersection in Dallas. I love all the great restaurant options surrounding us and, as I've mentioned before, I love my house in our quirky little East Dallas neighborhood.

Notice my look of triumph at finding an adorable Starbucks near the water in San Fran...

Nothing compares to a cool morning breeze blowing through the barn at 6am, the smell of hay and honeysuckle, a freshly opened bag of feed, sweet horse breath in your face, a welcome whinney, an open pasture of soft grass, warm sunshine on your face and fresh, pure country air. There's nothing better than experiencing God in the midst of His creation and hearing Him speak to you in the whisper of the wind. I've known this sort of bliss on my Papaw's farm in Kentucky, at the Pine Cove Ranch on warm summer mornings, driving down country lanes with the windows rolled down and, in Wyoming, as Trevor and I quested to find a band of free-roaming, wild horses.

(We found em.)

I've known this bliss in trips to the Feed Store (http://paisleyleather.blogspot.com/2009/04/feed-store.html), long trail rides through piney woods, in blissful hours spent caring for the horses I've had the privilege of loving along the way.

Cosmo Alexander as The Perfect Farm Kid.

(Because we're Not Mentioning Laila, I'm whispering this part...) I long for my precious daughter to have the joy of experiencing these things, knowing God in this way, growing up slow and free and surrounded by authenticity and Love and Grace in an environment that fosters her curiosity and compassion and teaches her to work hard and love people and nature.

I'm grateful that it is possible to both love my new MacBook and love the open freedom of country life. I'm grateful that I can enjoy my soy americano as well as my Momo's country kitchen cooking. I'm grateful that we can live in our quirky East Dallas neighborhood and still escape the city whenever we get the itch.

What a blessed life we live. There are so many reasons to celebrate! I am choosing right now to always choose gratefulness and to teach my daughter the grace of being thankful.

Laila, you were conceived out of your Mommy and Daddy's desire to share the life we love with someone else, to invite a child into the blessings that God has given us. We welcome you with open arms, Little One... but, of course, only when you're ready.

Saturday, April 10

Paisley Leather presents Laila's Paisley Nursery

Trevor is fielding the Jehovah's Witnesses who just rang our doorbell and I'm popping by to say hello to you. Just a lazy Saturday morning at the Chapman house...

Hmmm... It is an interesting idea, door to door evangelism in our east Dallas neighborhood. I wonder at the effectiveness of such a method. Perhaps next time we should invite them in for a cup of tea and a chat. Friends, do any of you have stories about door to door prosletyzers and your encounters with them? I would be interested in hearing them... Comment away! Well, actually, have a look at these nursery photos first. That's the reason I popped by in the first place.

But first, I just want to tell you that we talked with the midwife on Thursday evening and she said that, at this point, if Laila's coming, we're gonna let her come! That means that my fears of being separated from her because of the NICU, my discomfort with the idea of using drugs to stop labor and my unease over the idea of having to give Laila steroids to speed up her lung development are behind us! Holly The Midwife says that Laila is cleared for take-off! Actually, umm... I think cleared for landing is more appropriate. I'm so grateful! We made it through 3 weeks of staving off contractions and we're emerging on the other side! Hearing this from Holly, my friends, was like a healing balm to my soul. I hit a pretty low place on Wednesday and Thursday because I was experiencing stronger and more painful contractions and was having a really hard time stopping them. I was haunted by the idea that Laila would come out and have to be separated from us and I couldn't imagine her out of my womb but not in my arms. Even now, a lump rises in my throat when I think about being separated from her. Whew. Shake it off, Chels. Pull yourself together. This is a celebration post!

So, the point is: She's a-comin and we're excited!
And her lovely nursery awaits...

A close-up of the AMAZING banner her Auntie Crystal made for her...

Her window valance and whimsical butterfly mobile... (Thank you, Aunt Judi!)

And the sign above her closet... (Thank you, Auntie Lezlie!)

A HUGE round of grateful applause to Laila's Nonna and Papa Bear AKA my precious Mom and Dad, for gifting us with all of the beautiful bedding you've seen in the above photos. You are going to be the spoiling-est grandparents EVER! And I say, "bring it on"! :) Thank you, Shmoopy and Daddy!

So, in conclusion, we're waiting here... with baited breath... for the moment that she arrives and completely ROCKS OUR WORLD... and we are going to love every minute of it.

Wednesday, April 7

Good Thing I Love My House

So, they call it "Modified Bedrest" and it's what they make you do when you are 33 weeks and 1 day pregnant and you start having contractions that hurt... Not those innocent little Braxton-Hicks contractions, my friends... The real ones. The ones that make your cervix start to thin out and begin that lovely journey to 10 centimeters of glorious dilation. The ones that feel like someone is twisting your uterus like a dish towel being rung out. Oh, uh, my apologies to any male readers out there. That may have been a little too much information. Actually, I don't think I have any male readers out there, except my Dad... who can totally handle a little cervix talk. The man watched my little brother be removed from my mother's womb, ya'll, like, actually watched it happen. He's crazy tough.

By the way, when Clay came out, he was asleep. Seriously, the child was totally chilling. Evidence of the cool cat he would grow up to be? I think yes. Check out the cool-ness... It's unparalleled, really.

I, on the other hand, came out screaming like a banchee... But are we suprised? My Mama says I was mad as a hornet about how long the whole process was taking and came out with a little conehead to show for it. Poor baby. No child should be compared to Dan Akroyd, seriously.

See what I mean? That's rather disturbing, actually.

While we're on the subject of me and my little bro, how about some fun pictures of the two of us?

Too cool for school...

And we like to flare our nostrils...

And we're REALLY HAPPY!!

Wow, check out my collar bones. I miss those. Oh, and also my cheek bones... and only the one chin. Hmmm... I'm sure I'll see that face in the mirror again someday... :)

Laila is so worth it, though. And she's definitely worth all of this laying around and missing my Starbucks.
In loving memory...

I liken this bedrest thing to naps in pre-school. Remember how much you hated having to take a nap back then? I mean, I remember loathing naptime, having to be practically strapped to my nap mat and threatened within an inch of my life if I didn't stay put and close my eyes! Somewhere around 5th grade, though, I began to see the value of that nap mat that was once so burdensome to my little preschool agenda. I began to long for someone to bust out a nap mat and declare that naptime had been instituted for middle schoolers and would we all please put our heads down and close our eyes?? Alas, it never happened... And, according to all reports, once Laila arrives, I will never again, in my entire life, ever have another afternoon in which I lay around thinking, "La di da... I wonder what I should do now..." All of you Moms out there are knowingly nodding your heads, slightly charmed by my naivete and saying these like, "You better enjoy that rest while you can!" and "Oh, if someone would only put me on bedrest!" and "Girl, you don't even know..." I know, I know. You're right. I should be grateful. Sigh.

Anyway, we're in the home stretch! Today is 35 weeks and, as of this next Monday, we will be home free and Laila can come any old time she likes! As my Grandat said, "She's already looking for the door!"

I just think she's an overachiever, ready to take on this great big world and anxious to get a headstart! "Hello World! I'm Laila Chapman and I've got work to do! I can't be bothered by things like due dates and lung development! Here I come!"

Okay, Little Champ, just stay in there 5 more days, will you? For Mommy?

Tuesday, February 23

Your Vote Counts!

Dear reader, consider yourself loved. Consider yourself valued.
Consider yourself... solicited.

Trevor and I are working on Laila's middle name. As I've mentioned, this is a serious decision. The world will call this child by the name we give her for the rest of her life. And, of course, her middle name is especially important because this is what she'll be hearing from us every time she gets in trouble... I'm joking, of course. Laila will never be in trouble... Ahem. Anyway.
These things can't be taken lightly at any rate!

So, we'd like your opinion...

Here are the finalists, in no particular order:
Laila Layne Chapman
Laila Grace Chapman
Laila Zoe Chapman
Laila Belle Chapman

Trevor would like for me to tell you that he reserves the right to completely ignore the results of this survey (he's just being spicey, you see) but I promise that your thoughtful comments will be valued and carefully considered.

Your Vote Counts!

Monday, February 22

Musings from a Monday...

Lean Cuisine Pizza: is not a meal. It's barely a snack... and now I'm hungry again.

Pandora Radio: I LOVE Pandora. Have you, dear reader, been introduced to it's greatness? I've been listening to the Norah Jones station this morning and have discovered two new songs that I will be adding to my "chill" playlist. "Dream" by Priscilla Ahn and "Heal Over" by KT Tunstall. You should have a listen. You'll be glad you did. And, while I'm on the subject of music, let me just give some love to my Music Guru and Best Pal, Jennifer Powell, who always finds the most wonderful and creative music and then, in her generosity, shares it with me. You should read her blog. See the list to the right. No, not the "About Me" section... that's about me... down a little... right. There you are. Notes from G Street. She's adorable. Here's a picture of us at my wedding...

The Phenomenon of Belly Touching: Now, I was warned, well and often, by good friends who've gone before me, that I would find myself being unapologetically touched by people once I was blatantly and unmistakeably pregnant. This was not something that concerned me. I'm a touchy kind of person. I hug people I first meet. I welcome kisses from friends visiting from France. I value the human connection. My bubble tends to be rather small... So far, I've actually experienced less belly touching than I expected. Oh you know, the occasional older lady at the grocery store, friends and family, of course, and children especially seem fascinated by my protruding middle, however, The Line was crossed last week when a male student at SMU just couldn't resist reaching out for a little rub. WHAT?! I mean, we're talking a complete stranger, a MAN and a college student at that! After congratulating me like we were old friends, he went on to explain that he has "about a million" neices and nephews and that he LOVES children. "Now I don't have any myself, of course" he says, "Ya gotta find the right girl first, you know!! Ha ha ha... You must have found the right one, though! I mean, the right guy in your case... Cause you're clearly the right girl! Ha ha ha" and, all the while, I'm still totally amazed and, frankly, rather speechless, feeling confused because, while I'm a bit charmed by his enthusiasm, I'm also resisting the urge to slap his face for feeling so free to just TOUCH me. I mean, yes, the belly has the baby in it but it's still MY belly, after all. Still very much A Part. Of. Me. I walked away totally in awe, smiling a bit, I'll admit, but, still, totally in awe. Here was Laila's reaction:

How would you have reacted?