Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I am obsessed with the DIY blog Young House Love. If you haven't checked it out, do it now. A lot of my motivation and inspiration for home decor and crafts has come from this Richmond couple. They offer tons of creative, affordable ideas and have recently released a book. Along with their book release, they have a book tour and guess who made a stop on the tour. ME (and my friend, Kelsey, a fellow YHL lover). With pre-ordered book in hand, on December 2nd we waited in line for an hour or so (Kelsey, I totally forget how long we were in life - was it an hour and a half, was it less??) to meet John and Sherry. I was a little nervous to be honest. I mean, I know tons about them and love them, but they know not a thing about me. I want them to like me! I want to be friends! Hahaha. 
It was so weird. I mean people, they're famous. A sold out book, a sold out book tour, and thousands (millions?) of followers. And leave it to me to approach the signing table with my book plastered in post-it notes. I felt like a nerdy teacher's pet, but hopefully they were flattered that I jumped right in. I have to do the same thing with cookbooks. So many ideas are overwhelming to me. I have to narrow things down so I actually do or make something. Anyway, I rambled like a nervous dork, but it was all worth it. And look, John thought I was hysterical. I bet they're still talking about me. And I bet they're the ones stalking me now.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Big, exciting things are happening today. Just at lunch Surrey learned to smile on command. Now I think we'll hear a lot more of her looking like me, rather than just Jeremiah. If you've ever seen a baby picture of me, seems to me our "smiles" are pretty similar. Mom or Dad, would you agree? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe every kid smiles like this.
I never thought much about the smiling thing until a couple days ago - actually, maybe even yesterday morning. Some woman asked her to smile and then said kind of disappointedly - oh, she doesn't know how to smile. Say what, lady?! Don't look at my child with those eyes and talk to her with that tone. Stupidly, parental guilt sank in for a minute. Even more stupidly, last night I tried to get Surrey to smile on command and she just looked at me like I was nuts. And I was.
But then today at lunchtime, by the grace of God, she looked at me with this big cheesy smile. I excitedly reinforced and since then it's her new favorite trick. She's awesome. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reopen the Gift

This morning at our church's women's ministry group the speaker talked with us about reopening the gift. The gift, being the Christmas story that we're all so familiar with that many times we don't put much thought into it. Our Christmases sometimes become much like the movie Groundhog Day, with the same routine happening over and over and over again. She showed us how The King was born in such an unkingly fashion and dug deeper into Mary's incredible faith. There's a lot to that story that we just don't engage with most of the time. She encouraged us to engage this Christmas, to take a different perspective, to reopen the gift. And I was encouraged and motivated to do that, feeling very sick and tired of the monotonous, drudgery of day-to-day life as a financially and more often than not emotionally struggling wife and mom and babysitter and ... Little did I know that motivation was going to be put to the test so soon.

When I put Surrey and Stella down for a nap just about an hour after I had heard that talk, I wrote an email to Jeremiah. To complain. I actually thought twice about interrupting his day with my whines, but then justified it because I know a couple friends who call or text their husbands when their child is a nut or they want to scream. Godly friends, too, so it's ok. So I wrote him...

Brianna Link 
12:58 PM (52 minutes ago)
to Jeremiah
well so far this morning i've caught surrey's barf in my bare hand (a mixture of goldfish and lord knows what else) and bashed stella's head (actually i think her eye) against the car door by accident.

hope your day is looking a little better.

Note: Surrey just last night started coming down with a runny nose and cough for what seems like the 20th time this fall. Her barfing was all that backed up good stuff we get when we're congested, mixed with whatever the heck they fed her at snack time.

And he wrote me back...

Jeremiah F Link
1:02 PM (50 minutes ago)
to me
One of my students from last year committed suicide.  She was living in New York.  One of the kids I loved.  It is not looking better.  

And in a matter of four minutes the Lord redirected my perspective on everything. This is the second suicide, in addition to a murder of a student's father, that has occurred involving Jeremiah's students in a month's time.

I'm challenged to actually reopen the gift and engage with Jesus this Christmas. Choosing to realize the condition of myself and of the world around me and praising God for the gift of his son. Is it uncomfortable to hold my daughter's barf in my hand? Of course. Was it uncomfortable for Mary to give birth without an epidural, outdoors, alone? Was it uncomfortable for Jesus to be laid in a feeding trough and then die on a cross? Absolutely. Thank God Surrey has someone who loves her and can care for her - and thank God I opened the door at just the right minute to care for her and then hold her tight. And I can wash my hands and wash her clothes. But that student's life is gone. And that should be reason enough set myself aside, have eternal perspective, and love people like Jesus this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cookies With Santa and Mrs. Claus

Tonight we took Surrey to see Santa and Mrs. Claus thanks to our homeowner's association. We had to wait 40 minutes to see them, but Surrey was pleasantly content walking all over the place showing off her glittery shoes. Not surprisingly, I was more impatient than my one year old daughter. Regardless, once it was our turn we had a wonderful time with the sweet couple in the exquisite costumes. These were very legit Clauses. And so so friendly. Surrey did awesome - walked right up to them (with a little coaxing from the electronic bell-ringing Snoopy), sat on Mrs. Claus' lap, and even socially interacted (said her version of "ho, ho, ho," coughed in their face, blew kisses, and waved. Good times. And of course, the cutest stinkin kid there.
PS The last picture is thrown in here just for you to get the full effect of her outfit.

Both Ends of the Spectrum

Who knew such stark contrast in outdoor holiday decorating could exist in such close proximity? Look no further than our front porch and our neighbor's above for both ends of the decorating spectrum. 
Typically, we wouldn't be quite as far apart in taste. The past few years we've wrapped the big fat colored lights around our outdoor garland but, unfortunately, this year the string was toast and so we used an extra string of mini white lights we had already. Come to find out, I may have gotten definitely got a bit mixed up and tested the string of lights that we take bulbs from (hence several missing bulbs) instead of the newer string - but at that point I already had the white ones up and looking perfect. Naps last only so long, I don't have time to keep putting things off.
Yes, I tooted my own horn there for a second. Between the garland and our tree, I think my dad would be proud. A big thanks to my husband for continuing to tell me neighbors probably think it's a pre-lit length of garland. If my worth was determined my exterior illumination, I'd be valued at a million bucks. 
Then there's good ol' Gloria's decor. On the bright side, she allowed me to feel a bit nostalgic about my bedroom Christmas decorations in elementary school. Nothing like hanging up colored lights across the middle of my wall with pushpins and draping them around any and every thing. Too bad she's missing her own hand-drawn mural on computer paper taped up with it. She thinks it's wonderful her grandson dictates what she put up. I think the homeowner's association needs to start regulating. Excuse the faraway photos - once I started zooming in I realized Gloria was sitting at her dining room table and thought it was in my best interest to go immediately indoors.
2012 has brought out a lot of emotion in me when it comes to outdoor Christmas decorations. I may need to seek professional help for that. In the meantime, I kind of want to tour our neighborhood with my camera and provide some commentary. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Deck the Halls

Update: Just realized I forgot to bring to your attention - as if it wasn't blaringly obvious enough - that our tree lacks ornaments on the bottom third. Any guesses as to why that may be??

Just thought I'd share a few of the holidays sights around our little place. A shout-out to Land of Nod for the snowflake doily inspiration. You can't tell from the pictures, but they are strung on red and white baker's twine (purchased from the dollar section at Target a few months ago). Another shout-out to my parents for letting me go shopping in their Christmas bin over Thanksgiving to help me complete my red and white theme. I'm quite proud of the festive wreath I made using a gaudy strand of tinsel garland we already had and a styrofoam wreath I picked up with a coupon at Joann. We recently moved furniture around so some artwork is still out of place, which is why those embroidery hoops are overpowered by the TV. I should have taken an up-close picture though because they're real fun. I just used fabric I had already to wrap the hoop and put some fun but not overly Christmasy fabric in the center. Love them. Let's see, what else. Used fabric from Surrey's weekly photos to make those red and white chevron pillow forms. Don't flip them over - it's a hot mess. Apparently, the simplest of tasks I cannot perform correctly with a sewing machine. That bulletin board will be used to post Christmas cards - that is, assuming we receive some? Was that a little too presumptuous of me?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ohhh Fuuuudddgggee

Only I didn't say fudge. Because although the recipe said I'd have fudge, I most definitely did not have fudge. Wouldn't you agree?

What in the world.
My mom (and now my sister as well) is known for her decadent fudge. If she loves you, you've received it as a gift or at least have chowed down on it from a little glass dish any time you've been over during the holiday season. It's rich and delicious. It also takes a thick liquid form and pours nicely into a pan before setting. As you may imagine, mine did not. What went wrong? I'll never know. But no, I did not scoop up mud by the handful and smush it into a baking dish. And no thanks to whatever force of nature was a against me last night, I not only wasted time and money but now have no gift to give the sweet ladies who take care of Surrey during a women's group I attend.
Starbucks gift cards for all!

'Tis the Season

The phrase 'tis the season kind of reminds me of the phrase when in Rome this time of year. It actually probably isn't like it at all, but don't think you think people misuse the Rome thing all the time? And in the case of the holidays, don't people (purposefully) misuse the season thing? I have to go to another awful family gathering - 'tis the season! I'm eating my weight in cookies - 'tis the season! I can't put food on the table, but better send out the annual Christmas card - 'tis the season! Haven't posted on the blog in ages so what better time - 'tis the season!

Ok, this is senseless. Apparently I've lost my sanity ever since Surrey turned one.

But, I have a few posts up my sleeves so get yourself ready. Unlike Advent, the waiting is over people - it's here!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fifty-Two Weeks

That's a wrap. Can you believe it?? I, for one, cannot. Although the day-in day-out parenting of an infant at times seemed to drag on and on and on, the year as a whole flew by. Jeremiah and I went out the night of Surrey's birthday as a little congratulations to ourselves for surviving a year of parenthood. We were reflecting on the past twelve months with both precious and dreadful memories. Everyone should have to take care of an infant for a year before having a baby. Ha, not very possible! But really, how much more knowledge and confidence we have now! Although the sound of a newborn in public still makes me shudder (sorry grandparents, no more grandchildren anytime soon), I know now that I can handle it and I know now a lot more tricks of the trade than I did back in the day. We were so clueless and sleep deprived. And at times, I was scared of my child. I was fearful I'd have no clue what to do with her or when she'd start crying next. I never thought I'd make it through the reflux and the colic and the awful breastfeeding experiences. But here I am - here we are - alive and thriving. Surrey is awesome, although she still likes to fool the public by coming across stoic or miserable. She's walking and talking and is a lot of fun. She almost makes us want another. Almost. 

And here she is with her grand finale photoshoot. Sheesh. I think she's just had enough of these pictures. Or she's say they're ending. Either way, she's pissed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fifty-One Weeks

Hi Mom. At least you have the picture for now...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fifty Weeks

Surrey is determined to go out with a bang this year and she's doing a pretty great job of it. Poor girl has been fading slowly since Sunday. Monday night I called the on-call doctor after she had had a low-grade fever, a rash, and a mildly pink eye (and was up twice in the night for two hours a piece). They had us go in the following morning (yesterday) for a sick appointment to figure out what's going on. She's a hot mess. Mild conjunctivitis (pink eye), tonsillitis (inflammation of the throat - some sort of infection there), right ear infection, and cellulitis (crazy rash on her limbs). We also discovered a molar has come in and the other one pushing through, along with her two front top teeth. What in the world?! 
Well as the day went on her rash seemed to be getting worse and worse, with it peaking last night. She woke up crying and her little cheeks were beat red with the rash/hives all over. I called the on-call doctor again and it happened to be the same pediatrician we saw earlier. She decided her cellulitis diagnosis was inaccurate, and that this disgusting rash was hives - more of a reaction to the other infections. It is the strangest thing - it comes and goes on all different parts of her body pretty rapidly, and at any time she may have a few big patches of bright red areas with hives. She doesn't seem to be bothered, but it's frightening! Jeremiah ran to the store to pick up Benadryl (she's also on an antibiotic, eye drops, and the occasional tylenol dosage), and thankfully she fell asleep around 10:45. Her normal bedtime is between 6:30 and 7:00. Let's have a moment of silence while we take that in.

So, I hope she is on the upswing today. I put her down for a nap way early because the poor child just couldn't stand it any longer. Oh and now she's crying and coughing, awesome.

And get this. In the midst of all this funkiness, Surrey is walking. WALKING. While most of us decide to cozy up on the couch and rest, Surrey chooses to start walking on her own. Oh boy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Forty-Nine Weeks

Our awesome eater, just weeks shy of her first birthday (a pivotal point in the eating world), has decided to take on the role of picky eater. I'm starting to understand parents' frustration with this and why resisting the temptation to fix them whatever they'll eat is so hard. Surrey used to love vegetables, would try anything and most of the time enjoy it. She now almost refuses to eat a vegetable that isn't pureed in baby food form. Carrots, once treated like candy, now won't even enter her pincer grasp. Great, she'll be fat like her mom who only eats sweets. Or, she'll be like her dad and be a lover of all things meat. We're doomed. Ok, I'm exaggerating, but really, it's slightly anxiety provoking.
I also just could NOT wait until she turned 11 months because her pediatrician gave us the go ahead to start transitioning to whole milk. Praise the Lord! The cost of formula is outrageous and the smell is vomit-inducing. Good riddens! Or so I thought. Surrey hates whole milk. She'll take several sips from her cup like it's nothing but then realizes it's foreign and begins trying to push it out with her tongue. Today I tried it in a bottle (I know - bad move!). I thought that was the answer, until 1 oz into it she started crying and turning her head and refusing it. Dang it. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Forty-Eight Weeks

Surrey says hi! This girl has got the cutest hi and bye wave going on right now. So funny how she stretches as high in the hair as she can and as close to her head as possible. Tonight she even busted out a double wave - and we were all just sitting at the table, not even going anywhere. 
Although she isn't confidently walking yet, she is added skills to her crawling repertoire. Her new favorite thing is to crawl around with something in one hand - oftentimes a xylophone mallet or this rattly smiley-faced ball that goes with her stacking cups. She's discovered how things make different sounds when she crawls with them on carpet or on the hard floor.
Surrey continues to give huge, open-mouthed, drooly kisses; although, sometimes she just gives a smirk when asked and plays hard to get instead. I must say I'm a little jealous of Cameron (who actually is still living here) and Jeremiah when they come home from work. They get the biggest waves, smiles, and kisses. Guess that's a sign I need to get out more. She adores her Uncle Cam, which is just so very cute to watch.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Forty-Seven Weeks

Are you reading this correctly?! We're just about a month shy of celebrating Surrey's first birthday! Craziness. Surrey is just so full of personality nowadays. She's had a great couple weeks, although we're still wishing those dang teeth of hers would just push through already. She continues to love showing her tongue off to anyone who asks. We now catch her all on her own letting go of what she had been holding onto and standing! She claps for herself (to herself), which if definitely appropriate). If you tell her to stand up she'll let go and hold position for quite some time. And you better believe she gets closer and closer to walking each day. She's been taking several steps to us!
Surrey was in her first wedding this past weekend, which you'll get it another blog update. My sister got married and Surrey stole the show as the best behaved, cutest ring bearer ever. So proud.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Forty-Six Weeks

Ask her where her tongue is and Surrey will give you this face all day long. It's pretty awesome. One day last week I randomly asked her, "Surrey, where's your tongue," and she began putting her tongue in and out of her mouth right away. Genius was my first thought! We hadn't trained her at all. Then I asked her where her nose is and she stared at me blankly. Baby steps.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Forty-Five Weeks

In honor of the start to the school year and our alma mater's kickoff to football season this Saturday, Surrey is showing her Penn State pride. Her Uncle Cam's blanket is also a fitting backdrop to her photo since this is his last week living with us. Fortunately, he's sticking around Richmond. It's crazy to think that he has been here her entire life - ever since she was a wee little newborn with horrendous crying spells. She's come so far. 
Miss Independent continues to cruise all over the place and has now decided she enjoys pulling up on cabinets and opening the doors. Time to install the baby locks. She loves legitimately clapping and making funny faces. How does a ten and a half month old get humor? Fascinating to me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Forty-Four Weeks

Oh friends, we are sleep deprived this week. Our little ball of fun has decided to frequently boycott napping longer than 25 minutes and has also decided to begin waking up at 4:30 in the morning. Let's all have a moment of silence for our sanity.

Thank you.
Maybe she's teething - although I've been saying that for at least a month? Those suckers better push through soon and hopefully justify all of this craziness. Maybe she's going through a growth spurt? Maybe we have no idea? That's for sure. We're really really hoping this is a phase, whatever it is. We've tried pushing her bedtime up, being advised that sleep begets sleep and so the more sleep she gets the longer she'll sleep. That's worked for us pretty much all along, but has failed miserably these past couple weeks. At this point we're totally confused. Let's all say a prayer things get knocked back into order soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DC Overnight

This past weekend Surrey and I had a little overnight getaway in northern Virginia, right down the street from Washington D.C. My dearest Richmond friend, Bevin, and her husband relocated a couple months ago for a new job. The three of us were all sad to see them leave but we're excited for their new adventure (especially since they're expecting their first baby in a handful of months!). 
Although Surrey rarely slept and kept me up most of the night, we had a great trip. We headed to the city to check out the botanical gardens, snuck a picture in front of the Capitol, and picked up a sweet treat at a delicious cupcake place, Baked & Wired. We also loved just hanging out at their home, eating a delicious dinner, and talking baby things. Surrey especially loved crawling around with their dog, Charlie. He was quite the gentleman, especially with all the nighttime screaming she was doing.
Thanks Bevin, Claiborne, and Charlie for a wonderful visit!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Forty-Three Weeks

There's no such thing as rest nowadays. Surrey is going going going, and while it's a lot of fun to see her add new fun skills to her resume each day, it's starting to get exhausting. Gone are the days we can even sit still in the same room as her, and a big goodbye to when we were able to leave her in a room while we went to the bathroom or fixed lunch. She has started cruising the entire room, transferring from furniture to furniture til reaching her desired destination. She pulls up on ev.er.y.th.ing. And just today she is perfecting the art of going from standing (not on her own yet) to sitting back on the floor. Like I said, it's so fun to watch everything unfold (other than the falls of course, which always seem to happen under my supervision), but things are getting real around here.

Spidey Sense

Our child is channeling her inner Spiderman. Surrey's quickly earning the nickname Spidey around here as she continues to try and scale walls. She hasn't quite mastered the skill yet, but at the rate she's going, I'm sure in no time we'll find her fingertip-deep in drywall.

No Thanks, New Normal

This is our very cute, but very irritating new normal. Crib standing has catapulted Surrey into what we're hoping is a short phase. Back in the good ol' days (up until just shy of a week ago), we'd put Surrey down for a nap or bedtime and wouldn't hear a peep. She's now fighting strong with each sleep to beat her personal record of avoiding sleep for at least one hour after being put in her crib. I'm trying to hone in on my inner Nanny Jo and continue to go in to her room, not say a word, lay her back down, and walk out. She is persistent. And stubborn. And apparently a lot like me. Yikes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Forty-Two Weeks

She looks uninterested because she is. She's not at all interested in laying on her back or laying still. Fortunately, she humored me for three clicks of the camera before she was off rolling and crawling. As of yesterday she is officially a cruising champ. Literally turning corners, circling the ottoman and the  coffee table, yelling and waving to her fans (ie anyone who is watching) in the process. Fun times!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Forty-One Weeks

We've got a crawler! We're so excited that Surrey has put everything together and taught herself how to crawl like a champ. Life is already very different. She rarely sits still in once place now, and our odds of getting her to lay still for even a moment of time nowadays is nonexistent. See picture below. And although she has greatly increased her ability to move, it's still not good enough for her. The past couple nights she hasn't been content unless she's being walked all around the house. She so badly wants to walk. She tries to pull herself up on most everything and is succeeding more and more. I'm personally exhausted from all this moving. Ha! My knees and back just can't take walking her around much more. 
Not only is she crawling like a champ, but she's eating like a champ, too. We've been giving her more and more finger foods and she has shown little to no hesitation. Tonight she had a delicious dinner of whole grain pasta with sauce and a side of green beans. How gourmet. She's mastered picking up the most slippery of foods - fruit is no match for her. Things are getting real around here!
This past week Surrey also had her first trip to a beach. Big bummer for me though - I was at home watching Stella without a car. Whomp whomp. Jeremiah took Surrey down to Holden Beach, NC to introduce her to his grandparents. Although jealous of course, I'm glad he was able to take her, especially since his family was down there visiting at the same time too. The courageous parent award definitely goes to Jeremiah for doing a solo five hour road trip with the babe. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Surprise (Thunder) Shower

As matron of honor I was pleased to be in charge of hosting a shower for my sister. And as 'ring bearer' Surrey was elated to co-host - especially since that meant she got to stay up past her bedtime. My sister's main request was that she not know anything about it. Sounds easy until you combine all the factors: I live in a different state, my sister lives at my parents' house so I can't stay there while up for the shower, I live in a different state and my sister lives at my parents' house so having serving dishes and groceries on hand isn't the easiest thing to pull off. Good times. But, I remained optimistic throughout the process and even up until the start of the big event. The morning of, although temps reached 103 degrees, the tables were set just right and the overall ambiance was reaching perfection. Once the food got set out about a half hour prior to game time it would be complete and people would be knocking down my door to help plan their next special occasion. 
That is, until the storm hit. Yep, at the exact time it was all hands on deck to get the last minute details ready, particularly the food, a rather tornadic storm ripped through our cozy, outdoor setting. The gusting winds blew the table settings on the ground and pulled down some strands of lights/lanterns. Pouring rain and fierce lightning. We had to rushingly set up everything in my aunt's garage, which felt like a sauna and barely fit everything in it. We had decorations resting on oil canisters and tool chests. My hopes and dreams all came crashing down in minutes. Thank God for my parents and the Franks and my husband who saved it all. I stood there staring blankly in disbelief and on the verge of tears pretty much the whole time. And of course, minutes after my sister was surprised, the rain stopped. So, to keep things formal, guests had to carry their own chairs back outside and my dad and uncle set all the tables back up under the tent. Although things were mildly still in shambles, I was grateful to be out of the garage and trying to carry on as usual.
Oh and after 27 years you'd think I'd listen more closely to my mom's advice. After we had set things up that morning she told me I should probably take pictures then. I quickly told her I had it all under control and would snap photos once everything was perfect and set out, minutes before the start of the shower. We all can imagine how that turned out. I have zero pictures of my masterpiece. I could cry. Below are a few pictures I salvaged and some I even took this weekend while back at home to craft for my sister's wedding. Lame. Unfortunately I don't have photos of the perfectly matching Crate & Barrel prize mugs or the fun "How Old Is She" game or the yellow and white tent strung with lights and lanterns or the fun dairy farm themed cream and sugar holders or the little John Deere car holding gifts... BUT, I do have pictures of those awesome felt flowers my mom made (put in glass milk containers as centerpieces), the felt wreath that hung from a fun orange and yellow polka-dotted ribbon was crafted by me. The flowers we're wearing were the favors.