Friday, August 30, 2013

The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer Is By Singing Loud For All To Hear.

I've decided that this town is obsessed with two things: Pancake/Waffle Houses and Christmas.


No joke.

On the way to the amazing outlets this morning I counted how many pancake/waffle houses I saw. Six. Six! And that didn't even include the Ihop I passed, because really, who's gonna eat at Ihop when you have the Astronomical Pancake House down the street? This is all within a two mile radius mind you (We've passed quite a few more in other parts of town). Extraordinary. 
And these places are legit. Well, I wouldn't really know from experience because the one time we did try to go to one was in the evening for dinner. I know right, dinner? What were we thinking!? Of course they were all closed. They close right after lunch hours. A true blue breakfast house. Well really, six of them. Take your pick. I have a feeling that Saturday brunch could quite possibly become a new family tradition here soon.

Along with Pancake Houses, I've seen quite a few Christmas shops around town as well. Christmas shops that are always open--year round. I can't even imagine what it would be like to work in one of those places, it would definitely take some of the excitement out of the Christmas season when it actually did come.

I strolled into one of the Christmas shops when we first moved here. It was cute. Mostly just ornaments and Santas. Then I was introduced to Yankee Candle Village. That place is life changing. 

Shae and I went with some of the ladies from church last week and it was mind blowing. I thought it was a factory where we watched candles being made. Boy was I wrong. It is the cutest little village of shops. I loved it so much that I dragged Darin there with me this week so that he could join in the early Christmas cheer. Walking into this place felt like walking into the movie Elf. Christmas year round baby!
Well, now you know. Only 118 days left till Christmas. (Really only 117 since this was taken yesterday).

Also right below the clock, the brick opens up and there is a five minute puppet show every half an hour. 
(I think I was a little more excited about the puppet show than Shae was).
Santa is there year round as well. He said he was on "vacation," hence the shirt, but he sang Jingle Bells and read Christmas stories to the kids. In the above picture he is showing the kids the part of the store that drops snow every four minutes. So cool!

 Cutest little Christmas shops ever. On top of that, there's a really fun toy shop, general store, candy shop and other unique shops (hello Christmas shopping!). And of course, the biggest shop was the candle shop, filled with walls and walls full of uniquely scented candles. 
I think I've found my favorite hang out place while daddy is at work. Heck yes.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Workin' the Floor

All it takes is a little army crawling baby to make you realize that your kitchen floor is not as clean as you thought it was. He hasn't figured out how to pick things up with his fingers yet and put them in his mouth, but while in the kitchen this morning, all he needed to do was roll over so that I could see all the food and dirt stuck to his little shorts to tell me that I'm going to be cleaning the floors a lot more often nowadays.

It ceases to amaze me how quickly babies change. It's maybe  been a week since Shae started the little army crawl. Maybe not even that long, perhaps only four or five days. Last week he was pretty pro at pushing up onto his knees and rocking himself back and forth. We were pretty sure that he would take off any day. And he did. Not the knee crawling that we were expecting after seeing him up on his knees so much. He seems to prefer being on his belly, using his feet to propel him across the floor (or he just can't figure out how his knees work yet). But back to my point, babies change so fast.
He's been exploring quite a bit the last few days, but usually just around his toys. Today, he has taken off. It was so cute earlier today, while making my lunch, I could hear him trying to find his way towards me in the kitchen and then POP, out of nowhere I see his little head around the fridge. He wouldn't have done that yesterday. 

He's discovered under the dining room table, in and out of the curtains, the dishwasher, the kitchen trash, the bathroom (toilet, sink, bathtub, scale) and was pretty entertained by the vent on the floor shooting air up onto him.
And the best part is that he gets so excited. His squeals and smiles as he finds something new make me squeal right along with him (okay really I just smile. I'm not much of a joyful squealer). But seriously, one of my favorite things about being a mother is watching him develop, grow, learn and then to see him get excited about the things that he is learning and able to do. 

(Let's be realistic for a sec, on that same note, one of my least  favorite things is how these developmental milestones mess with his sleep. It's just not as cute in the middle of the night. Luckily the cuteness is overpowering during the day and almost, almost, makes up for the lack of nighttime sleep).
Who me? Getting into everything? No way.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's In a Name

My least favorite thing about being pregnant (besides numbness in my hands, not being able to tie my shoes, back pain, outgrowing my clothes, etc. etc.) was choosing a name for the wee one. I never imagined how difficult naming a child could be. Ever since I was little I had written out lists and lists of my favorite baby names. Some names changed over the years and others stayed on the lists from year to year. In fact, I'm pretty sure that each and every one of my childhood/teenage journals has one of these lists within it's covers. I was a dreamer. Always dreaming about what my last name would be, what my children's names would be, etc. 

After making so many baby name lists over the years, you'd think that naming my baby would have been a sinch. No sir. Darin and I were pretty set on naming our boy Shae (Shay, Shea or some other form of the name) from the beginning. We had two other names that we played around with but Shae always seemed like the right one, UNTIL we started telling people. "No, the babies a boy," I said correcting people who asked if it was a girl. "Well, Shea is actually originally a boy's name," I would say as I tried to defend the name. "I mean, it's really just one of those names that could go either way, boy or girl," still trying to convince people that it was okay to name a boy Shae. 

I started to understand why some people choose not to tell anyone what name they have chosen or are considering. It can be stressful hearing everyone's opinions about a name that you are falling in love with. After telling people, I would always feel an inner cringe, bracing myself for the face or response I was about to hear for wanting to name my boy a certain way. 

Plus, this is the name that this little human being will have for the REST of their life. No turning back. That's a big deal! Much bigger than naming my little siblings who acted as my children while playing "house" as a child.

Clearly I got over my issues and freak outs about whether we should name our son Shae, because in case you haven't heard, his name is Shae. However, moving to Virginia still seems to have helped my "Naming-Baby" self-esteem. I've already met a handful of people who have friends (boys!) named Shae. There is even a man in our church congregation named Shay! As I spoke with a lady at church she said, "wait, Shae as a girls name? Never heard of it."  

I think I'll be much better prepared next time I have to name a baby. I'll be ready for the pauses and courteous replies: "Oh, that's unique" "Interesting" "That's...different" "For a boy?" 

Cause you know what, in the end, it really just doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I mean, Brillante? Really? I can't even begin to imagine the slack that my parents got for that name...and yet here I am.

(This kid has been ALL smiles the last few days and I'm LOVING it--except for about 3:30am to 5am where he has been screaming and we can't figure what's wrong or how to console him--I love these baby smiles! And if you look close enough, or zoom in, in the first picture you can see his two little teeth coming in!)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

You know that question that someone is bound to ask you on your birthday, the one that goes something like this: "So Brillante, do you feel  older today than you did yesterday." "Of course not," is my normal response. You can't just feel older over night. 

I was wrong. There's something about being on the other side of 25 that just feels old. Twenty-six. It sounds old. It feels old. In fact, I think I may even have a few wrinkles and gray hairs that I didn't have yesterday.

Besides the fact that I've climbed the hill enough to start feeling "old," my birthday was very nice. We were at my families house for the weekend (saying goodbye to Anna-sad!). My birthday fell on a Sunday we spent the morning at church, the middle of the day eating yummy food and cake and the afternoon/evening driving back to Virginia (trying to soothe a sad teething baby on a long car drive = difficult).

Darin was a sweetheart and made sure to extend my birthday to Monday. As soon as he got home from work we hopped in the car and were on our way to the massage that he had secretly booked me. Wonderful. Afterwards we went and got Greek food. Fantastic. After stopping at the Red Box on the way home, we finished off the evening by watching 42 (well, we watched half of it anyways. this baby of ours...I just can't seem to stay awake for an entire movie anymore. I'm back to my pre-Mrs. Self movie watching self). Awesome movie.

And now, I'm 26. 

Side note: (The massage was under Darin's name when he booked. We walk in to the spa and the lady sees Darin holding Shae and says, "Oh boy, I bet that you are the reason that daddy needs a massage aren't you?" haha! Maybe this is only funny to me but I was cracking up as Darin kindly corrected her and told her that he was the reason that I needed a massage. It was great).

Monday, August 19, 2013

Let's Go O's

LDS night at Camden Yards was last Friday. We all got in for super cheap and ran into people from church all night long. It was really cool to see a few sections filled up with missionaries from the Baltimore mission (lucky dogs). Darin and I have decided that we are bad luck at Major/Minor League baseball games. EVERY game we have attended results in a loss for the team we are rooting for. What the heck? 

Besides the five hours it took us to get to Baltimore (thank you DC traffic), we enjoyed a beautiful evening of baseball. There's nothing like chowing down on hot dogs and peanuts at your favorite baseball park. 
(My apologies to Anna and Philip for the above photo, it was just too good of Shae to not post it).

(Although the romper was still a bit big on him, we were really excited for him to wear it at his first Major League game).

And can I just say, Camden Yards is hands down one of my favorite places on earth.

 I love that park.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Six Months


We made it to six months! Half a year! This is kind of a big deal. We kept this baby alive for S-I-X months. And let's be honest, we really had no idea what we were doing half the time (three-quarters of the time... ALL time), but we did it! He's been fed, changed, bathed, rocked, bounced, held, played with, slept with, burped and loved. There have been many tears and sleepless nights (they go together oh so well don't they?), but there have been many giggles and smiles as well.

At six months Shae:

Weighs 19 lbs.

Is 27 inches long.

Has started on some simple solid foods (loving applesauce).

Sleeps all over the place.

Sits like a champ.

Still waking up at least three to four times a night (booooooo).

Loves sitting up in grocery carts while letting all the women gawk at him while we're shopping.

Got his first little wittle runny nose.

Loves sitting up in his stroller and his grandparent's umbrella stroller so much more than when we used the car seat in the stroller.

Speaking of car seats...he's figured out that if he straightens out his body, it makes for a hard time strapping him into the car seat. Clever little man. 

Life just wouldn't be the same without this little dude in tow.
Photo: courtesy of my little wittle brother Philip Kretchman. (Thanks Philip!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

La Naturaleza

(Isn't it great how I just threw Shae into these pictures?)

We went for a few walks while we were home with my family. Right next to the house there is an itty bitty street that ends up at a graveyard (about .8 of a mile). It's the perfect place for an evening stroll (more like an evening "work out" with the up and down hills). I love walking through all the trees and green. L-O-V-E it.

When my family decided to move to Pennsylvania, I really hated the location . I hated that everything was so ridiculously far away. But in the end, I didn't really have a say (and really didn't care that much) since I wouldn't be living there.  But over time, it really has grown on me. 

While driving around up there last week I realized how calming it is to drive through the wooded/hilly areas that surround my parents home. As my husband will tell you, I'm a very tense person. I have a hard time clearing my mind and just relaxing. I tried to do just that last week and I think I had some breakthrough moments. 

Being out in nature with few sounds of cars/people and being able to really ponder without distractions... it was actually somewhat heavenly. 

Little House on Dutch Cemetary Rd, 
You're growing on me.
Love, Brillante

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Christmas 2006. First Christmas in Pennsylvania.
The Shaester and I are currently in Pennsylvania with my family. We drove up yesterday after dropping Darin off at the airport so that he could head back out west to be with his family after the passing of his grandmother last week. Although this is a sad time for his family, we've talked a lot this past week about how wonderful it is to have a testimony of The Plan of Salvation. Death would be so heartbreaking and confusing without that knowledge. And although it is sad, we find peace and joy in the knowledge that this life is only a small part of the plan. Death is just one of the steps that we have to take to get to the next adventure that Heavenly Father has in store for us. 

After dropping Darin off at the airport yesterday we booked it up here to spend a few days with my family so that we wouldn't have to be alone down in Virginia. Even though I have never actually "lived" in this home--as in, I've never had a room or even a bed here and the longest I've been here were the two months after my mission--there is something refreshing and comforting about coming home. The house may be different but the people are the same. Heck, the taco salad we ate last night is the same, as is the Quilted Northern toilet paper I grew up with, the toys that Shae is playing with are the toys my baby siblings played with...the feelings are the same. 

As I get older, I seem to crave those feelings more. I crave the security and love that I feel at home. As a wife and now mother there are moments when I have to make big decisions and I think, wait, I'm not supposed to decide this, this is something my mom has to do, she knows what she's doing. Have you ever had one of those moments?

When I'm with my family I feel protected. I feel like I'm given permission to step back and be the kid again rather than the adult (to a certain extent at least, Shae doesn't really grant me full permission). 

Home really isn't about the house you live in or the bed you sleep in. It's about the people that make you feel safe. The people that love and respect you for who you are. The people that share your happiest successes and your saddest disappointments with you.

Home is family.

(My thoughts and prayers are with Darin and his family this weekend. Although I miss him ridiculously, I really am glad that he is able to be with his family at this time).
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Thursday, August 1, 2013


  • Post-pregnancy hair has finally kicked in and my hair is falling out by the handful. I always lost quite a bit of hair when showering and brushing but this is INSANE. When my hair is in a ponytail, you can see bald spots with little whispies growing in on both sides of my forehead. Embarrassing!
  • Merging onto the freeway out here sucks. The lane you roll in on turns into an exit two seconds later. Not cool.
  • Is it really necessary to charge a $234 electric deposit? Is it just me or does that seem a little steep? Remind me to never move again.
  • As of two weeks ago, Shae can magically hold the pacifier in his mouth. Must be the humidity.
  • We are sleep training this week. Desperate times call for desperate measures my friends. Ain't nobody enjoyin' wakin' up six times a night. This must stop.
  • While looking at apartments, we noticed that almost every bathroom had a towel rack in the shower. Weird. 
  • We made it to the correct baby storytime yesterday, in case anyone was wondering.
  • Darin: "I think it's rained everyday since we've been here."
  • Just finished putting the decorations up in Shae's room. (Leftover wedding banners came in handy).