Going Home

I have been feeling melancholy lately; stuck in a wishing of things that were.

I find the most accurate term to be “homesick”, but the truth is that I am wishing for things that are no longer. Past-sick might be more accurate and I’m finding that my definition of home and past are so intimately intertwined that I can no longer distinguish their separate attributes.

An unrequited longing for a different story line or at least a review of crossroads seems to be my private midnight movie each night as I try to silence the mind that holds me captive, brings me words, and over analyzes choices.

I’ve been planning as though my life depended on it; planning for my husband’s upcoming 30th birthday and my son’s upcoming 4th birthday.

And perhaps, in my somewhat fragile state of mind, my life does depend on it;  depend on the planning of momentous celebrations to remember that there are occasions, monumental occasions, that require attention and dedication that I am, truly, thrilled to honor them.

I have a surprise planned for my husband, a big one that I know (hope?) he will love because even though he doesn’t like to make big deals of things I like to, and turning 30 isn’t just something you can brush under the rug.

I know myself well enough to know that this is not depression (I’ve been there) but rather a valley, a passing of emotion that will fade as quickly as it appeared, mysteriously drifting in and out of my consciousness.

And I also know that it’s a fear. A fear of the reality that my son will be 4, because every year that he gets older is another year that he is growing up, just as he should.

And then I know, I’m having a slight fear of turning 30 myself, because in all of my intense planning of the celebration of others I can not seem to think of how I would like to celebrate myself.

And I’m doing silly things like going to a tanning bed (just the spray kind, not the terrible kind) and whitening my teeth and working out because I’m trying to capture, grasp, hold on, to some part of what it meant to not be 30?

Even though I’ve said for a long time that I’m ready to be 30. And I am. And I’m going crazy all at once.

I’ve talked to some old friends lately that I haven’t talked to in a long time, and at once I missed the phase of life I knew them in and wished they were more in the phase of life I’m in now.

It’s interesting to remember who you were before you became who you are.

Because you used to be oh so very different in the midst of your sameness.

Finally the birthday parties are planned and the to do lists are (almost) crossed off, and on Friday my husband, son and I are leaving for a trip to Georgia for a week full of family and birthdays and busy-ness.

And though I usually hate the craziness of trips to Georgia, this time, it feels a lot like going home.




The big 2-9

I have to be honest…I kinda love my birthday.

I love the way October 16th creeps in each year bringing with it the vibrant colors of orange, red and yellow in the leaves. I love the way it ever so subtly drifts in a scent of bonfires and crisp autumn air in the breeze. I love the way mid-October hits in the midst of the busy-ness of pumpkin picking, football games, fall festivals, and chilly nights.

I always have high expectations of my birthday, which is a little silly, but on the years I haven’t made it a celebration, I always get bummed out. (I couldn’t think of a more eloquent way to put that.) (Side note: I’m exhausted from making 1244,090987 homemade baked goods for my son’s bake sale this week.) (Did you know that when you are Parent Council chair you have to be in charge of, like, everything? Including the big fall bake sale? I don’t think I knew this.)

This year I am turning the big 2-9. It’s the last year of my twenties. I hear so much about making this year count, what a big deal turning 30 is, and even know people who have before 30 bucket lists. Which, if I’m hoping to accomplish, I would need to get a start on yesterday.

The thing is, I can’t wait to turn 30. I am not going to be that girl who is “29-for-the-third-time.” I am going to be that girl who is 30 and loving it! (I hope.)

I just think 29 is kind of a lame birthday. Nothing really happens this year. And it’s the age that people say they are again when they are 30, so all year I feel like if I say I am 29, people will think I’m just lying and I’m really 30. (Or, more likely, no one will put that much thought into it.)

That really did happen on my husband’s birthday last month. We went out to dinner and had the traditional free dessert on your birthday brought out, with NO singing. (The hubs is not as into attention as I am.) The woman at the table next to us told him happy birthday, and said, “Isn’t it great to be 29 again?” To which we awkwardly explained that he was, actually, just turning 29.

I know some people whose goal was to have all of their children by 30, or publish a book by 30, or get a PhD by 30. I never really had a before 30 goal in mind, so turning 29 just brings me one step closer to…well, just turning 30.

I have also heard of designated decades for life phases. The twenties are meant to be for partying and working your way up in a career. The thirties are for settling down and starting a family. The forties are for finally feeling established; having control over both family and work life. The fifties and sixties are for winding down your career and starting to relish in grandchildren. And I like to remember the advice of my great grandmother who just celebrated her 99th birthday in September, who says “Life doesn’t’ start ’till you’re 80.”

The truth is, life starts whether or not you chose to make it start. Life happens everyday. Our greatest plans fall apart and our greatest blessings unexpectedly come together.

I didn’t spend my twenties being completely selfish, or partying, or writing books, or establishing a career. I spent most of them going in and out of depression, being a wife, and learning to be a mother. To be honest, this decade of life has been pretty tough and I am quite excited to see it winding down. I’m so ready to fully embrace myself as a woman; one who is comfortable in her skin, confident in herself, and believes in her own truths.

And so as I enter into this last year of my twenties, I will remember that this is my last year to sport the number “2” at the beginning of my age and my last year to say “I am in my twenties.” But I plan to make this year count just as much as any other year; because they all count so very much in the story of our lives.

So today, I raise my Pumpkin Spice Latte to toast turning 29, and look forward to all of the years to come, even the ones that will start with the number “3” next time.



My birthday gift from the hubs this morning, pink roses, a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and a bag full of chocolate!


My mom also gave me some new clothes and a new footstool for the end of my bed, and I am looking forward to a girl’s night out this evening!

*Did you notice that Elated Exhaustion looks a little different? The blog re-design has been in the works since August and has just been installed in time for my birthday!*




The Third Birthday

After eventful first and second birthdays, and a lot of planning for the third, I had high hopes that this birthday party would be perfect. This year, his birthday fell on a Saturday, a perfect day to host a party. So on September 1st, we hosted a yellow birthday party at our house. Here is the big reveal; Noah’s third birthday party!

This year his birthday was all about his favorite color; yellow. Throughout the summer I diligently planned, bought, and made yellow items. We covered our home in yellow decor and invited his preschool class over for some fun. We were able to celebrate with my mom, sister, and brother-in-law, too.

The Yellow Birthday Party

Mommy, Noah and Daddy

The Invitation

The decor: kitchen chalkboard, living room streamers and balloons, entry table with pictures of Noah at ages 1, 2, and 3 and favor bags and birthday hats, dining room decked in yellow

Dining room. The food was all yellow: bananas, Goldfish, cheese, pineapple, doughnuts, popcorn, and yellow cupcakes and candy.

Beverage station featuring lemonade and lemon water, striped straws, and lemons. There are also homemade cookies shaped like the number 3 in the cake plate for each child to decorate with yellow frosting. Close up of homemade birthday banner.

Cupcakes and candy jars.

Cupcakes with yellow striped liners, yellow cupcake flags, and the number 3 candle, looking out into the back yard.

The back yard ready for the yellow party

The birthday boy.

Party details: my artsy shot, striped straws and lemons, the three cookie cutter and yellow icing…all of the 3 cookies were eaten!

There are a lot of pictures of all of the children and family at the party, but I’m not sure they would like being included on a blog. The children played outside on the swing set and I had set up bowling, bubbles, t-ball, and a yellow bucket of toys. They had a great time playing outside and decorating number three cookies. We all enjoyed singing Happy Birthday to Noah.

Happy Birthday Noah! Blowing out the candles and making a wish.

Look at that beautiful three year old.

The favor bags. Cat not included. :)

A boy and his balloons.

After party cuddles

Mommy, Noah, and balloons. My favorite yellow birthday party picture.

The Yellow Birthday Party was a great success. Noah had a wonderful time and I was so happy to host a party at our home for his friends. I think the third birthday was the best one yet.

The Second Birthday

In honor of my son’s third birthday on Saturday, (which I’m only kind of freaking out about), I am sharing the stories and pictures of his first two. In case you missed it, here is the story of his first birthday.

By the time the my son’s second birthday rolled around, I was in a much better place emotionally. It also coincided with my sister’s wedding, which took place in GA. I was a little distracted from my usual emotional vulnerability as I did maid of honor duties, prepared to sing at her ceremony, tried to prepare my little guy to be the ring bearer, and planned another large family gathering party…this time to take place in GA the weekend before my sister’s wedding.

The first year, I did not really know what “theme” to do, so I went with the colors blue and green and did cupcakes. The second year, my son had fallen in love with a character named Curious George. His loveys are two little Curious George stuffed animals. Though we have since moved on from his obsession with the TV show, the loveys are still a constant presence in our home and at the time Curious George was pretty much the only TV that ever got watched in our home.

So, naturally, the second birthday was all about George.

I meticulously planned all of the details, including shipping items to my in-laws house in GA where the party would take place, and prepared to throw a second birthday party with all of our family 10 hours away from our home.

The day of the party was flawless; family gathered together at my in-laws, some of my girlfriends from high school were able to stop by, and my in-laws helped with all of the set up and clean up.

Here’s a peek at the Curious George second birthday party in Georgia:

The invitation

The decorations

The birthday boy

The amazing cake

Family birthday pictures

Blowing out the candle, digging in, and opening presents.

After a very successful second birthday party in Georgia, we enjoyed my sister’s wedding. She was a stunning bride and my little guy was an adorable ring bearer.

My beautiful sister and my sweet boy

Me, my husband, and our sweet boy at the wedding

After an incredibly busy week in Georgia, we headed home to Richmond where we were met with the surprise of a massive power outage and a ton of debris in our yard. Richmond, VA was one of the many areas affected by the 2011 Hurricane Irene. We were one of the lucky ones who were not harmed and whose house was still standing, but we were without power for TEN DAYS.

On my son’s actual second birthday, September 1st, 2011, we were in a home with no power, and when the mailman arrived he delivered an IRS audit and an $11,000 bill for a dental surgery my son had that insurance was refusing to cover. (I will have to tell you that whole story one day.) So, similar to the first birthday, I spent most of his actual second birthday in tears.

Luckily, our power was restored after ten days and by the next week we had a small play date with his two best friends in Richmond.

The second birthday party play date. Two parties for turning two.

Two birthday parties for turning two, with a wedding and an eventful actual birthday thrown in.

The First Birthday

As a countdown to my son’s third birthday party, I thought I would share the first two.

The first birthday was the hardest one for me. I was an emotional wreck with the realization that my son was turning one, and had an incredibly difficult time with the one year anniversary of my difficult birth experience.

To add to my emotional anxiety, we had also just moved to Richmond, VA when my son was 9 months old. As soon as I had unpacked boxes I was throwing a huge birthday party.

All of our family flew up from GA to celebrate the only grandchild on both sides’ first birthday. It was a huge milestone. My mom, brother, sister, and all of their significant others as well as my husband’s parents, two brothers, sister-in-law and grandmother were there. We piled 15 people into our newly bought house and admired our sweet little boy.

The grand celebration was a four-day affair of family visiting, but the actual celebration was taking place on the Saturday after he turned one. This turned out to be a very good thing since I spent most of the day of his actual birthday crying.

We enjoyed the company of family and suffered minimal drama, though there always seems to be some at large family gatherings.

And then on the morning of the day of his party, my little boy started having trouble breathing. My husband and I weren’t terribly worried, but as the day progressed and his condition didn’t, we decided to head to the emergency room.

While we endured our first emergency room visit with our little boy, a scary experience that resulted in a diagnosis of croup, a steroid shot, and a nebulizer treatment, our family used their nervous energy to decorate the house for the party. My father-in-law even mowed the lawn. It was incredibly sweet, and when we got home from the hospital we had a party celebrating the first year of our little boy’s life.