I've passed the point of no return: 30.
In the words of my role model, Jay-z (minus that whole stabbing incident, I guess):
"Thirty's the new twenty, [friend] - I'm so hot still."

I was inspired by my friend Christy to reflect back on highlights from the past decade,
as I bid a fond farewell to my 20's.

End of sophomore year of college/beginning of junior.
Dated Doug long distance while he lived in NYC.

Got engaged!
Studied abroad at Oxford. Visited Italy, France & Ireland.

Completed my student teaching.
 Graduated from college.
Married Doug!
 Taught in Detroit.

Started teaching at PCA.

Got Zooey
Went to Jamaica. Went to Ethiopia and Kenya.

Bought our first house.
Went back to Jamaica and Ethiopia and Kenya.

Became Bo's mom!
Went to Costa RicaQuit teaching. Started a job that allows me to work from home.

Moved to New York

Became Willa's mom!

And now, 30.
Three decades.
Life is sweet.


your first day

Dear Bonsa,

Monday morning was your first day of nursery school. 
You've gone to Sunday School and "class" at the Bible study I attend, 
but something just seems so much more official about this. 
Maybe it's because it was the first time I've dropped you off with people I don't know 
and haven't stayed within a comfortable range in the same building.
 Sidenote: It is so hard to get a picture of you these days that isn't blurry. You're always moving & delighting in being silly.
You were so, SO excited about going to class. We went on a little tour last week, 
and when it was time to leave... well, let's just say you have had easier transitions. 
When we got home, we made a sticker countdown of the days left until you got to go back. 
The night before you started nursery school, your dad reminded me to take pictures. 
I laughed because, me? Forget pictures? But then he said, 
"I know he'll have first days of school every year, but this is the real first day of all those others." 
I tried to keep that in mind when I woke up the next morning. 
I wanted your first day of school to be memorable. 
We had set out your outfit the night before and made sure your little backpack was all set. 
I made a healthy egg breakfast for you. But somehow, in the mix of life with a toddler and an infant,
 the clock seemed to be working against us, and we ended up needing to rush. I got impatient and you cried.
We made it out the door and got to your school on time. Early, even. 
We walked in there together and my heart was pounding. 
Did the other moms know how inadequate I felt? How unprepared for this I was? 
How I was just pretending to know how this all works? 
We ventured down the hall and I met your two teachers. 
They showed you to your cubby and we hung up your coat and backpack. 
Then, you raced off to your classroom before I even had the chance to hug or smooch you goodbye. 
I watched your precious curls bouncing around the classroom and debated briefly calling you back 
to me for a hug... or just grabbing you and making you come home with me and play and stay little forever. 
But I smiled at the teacher, said, "Thank you - see you in a bit!" and turned around. 
I'm proud to say I made it to the car before the tears fell. 
Part of my emotion was because the morning hadn't gone as smoothly as I had hoped.
I didn't want to yell and make you cry on your first morning of school.
And part of the emotion was due to what this day signified - 
the beginning of your days in school away from me. 
The realization that there are now parts of your day to which I am not privy. 
Experiences that I will share only as you tell me about them. 
And part of my mama heart is jealous for all those moments. 
But I know this is the start of something that will be so good for you. 
Meeting new people. Making new friends. 
Learning how to operate in group settings. Learning to obey other adults.
And when I see your excitement about this process, it makes me excited for you. 
As sad as it is to realize how quickly you're growing up, it's amazing to watch. 
You're trying to figure life out. You have a big heart and big emotions.
You're independent and strong-willed and awesome.
I'm so grateful that the Lord has entrusted your sweet life to me and your daddy.
We are so proud of you and look forward to walking through this next chapter with you.
I love you forever,
your mama


2014: year in review

January 2014
- Celebrated the new year with my family in NY. 
- I turned 29. Doug took the day off of work & we went antiquing! 

February 2014
- Went to Aunt Jan's Valentine's Day party for the first time in maybe 10 years?
- Celebrated V-Day as a family at Dog Town.

March 2014
- Our nephew Riley was born!
- Went to Michigan for a wedding & to visit our friends.
- Found out I was pregnant!
- My sisters shaved their heads for Bald for Bucks!
- Drove to NJ to visit Zach, Michele & Sam and meet Riley!
(Proceeded to puke the entire drive home.)
- Robert & Bailey moved back to NY!
- Saw Once! with Doug.

April 2014
- Announced our pregnancy.
- Celebrated Easter with my family.

May 2014
- Had a floral baby shower for Bailey!
- Visited MI again to see friends & family.
- Celebrated Memorial Day at the pond with family & friends.

June 2014
- Took a family camping trip to Letchworth.
- Welcomed our niece, Charlotte Elizabeth, to the family!

July 2014
- Took a Model T ride with our dear friends.
- Celebrated the 4th of July at the Bannister-Nesbitt reunion.
- Took our 3rd annual trip to the ADKs with the Gerhardts
- Celebrated 7 years of marriage
- Nic came to visit for his birthday.
- Enjoyed watching all my siblings partake in the 4-H Auction.

August 2014
- Bo moved into his big boy room
- One year in our house!
- We went to our first Rochester Red Wings game as a family.

September 2014
- Celebrated 2 years as a family of 3!
- Went to IKEA with Victoria, in what will hopefully become an annual tradition!
- Celebrated Bo's 3rd birthday
- Celebrated Charlotte's baptism!

October 2014
- Willa Joy was born!
- Bo was Woody the Cowboy for Halloween! And... Willa wore an apple hat.

November 2014
- We had a "farewell warm weather" bonfire at my parents' pond.
- Celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents'
- Got our Christmas tree at Stokoe Farms

December 2014
- Celebrated Doug's 32nd birthday
- Had our annual Perhardt Christmas celebration.
- Celebrated Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve.
- Went to Michigan for Parton Christmas and visited several friends.

Happy New Year!


2014 christmas card

Well, I didn't get these printed & mailed, but it's the thought that counts... right?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


she's here!

Willa Joy
arrived Tues., October 21, 2014 at 4:56pm
7lb 1oz, 22in
I'm not going to share a full "birth story", as I think details about "mucous plugs" and "tearing" 
are not suitable for mixed company or the Internet in general, 
excepting places like Babycenter or WebMD. 

Anyway. An abbreviated version to appease the masses 
(and by "masses", I do mean the one or two people who still read this blog). 
On Monday night, I had been perusing Babycenter for signs that labor is starting, 
and I was beginning to feel a little frustrated because none of them were happening to me. 
Tuesday was my due date and I had been secretly hoping I'd go early, 
even though I was planning on going late. 

Tuesday morning, Zooey woke me up barking around 4:30.
I jumped out of bed - or rather, rolled out, like a beached whale might try to roll back to the ocean. 
Normally, I would make Doug go scold Zooey, but Bo had woken up in the middle of the night, 
and in the process of getting him back to sleep, Doug had fallen asleep with him. 
Anyway. Abbreviated version!! 
So, I'm lumbering out of bed and I feel what seems to be a bad period cramp. 
Sorry, that's as graphic as it's going to get. Maybe. 
I'd been feeling a lot of "low pressure" for about a week, so I didn't really think anything of it. 
I told Zooey to be quiet, went back upstairs & fell back asleep. 
Only to wake up a little later because of another cramp. And then another. 
After about 4 or 5, I thought, "I wonder if these... Could they be... No, surely this isn't... 
Maybe I should time these, just in case." They were about 10 minutes apart. 
By this time, it was about 5:45am, and I wasn't going back to sleep. So, I got up and showered. 
Doug woke up and walked in the bathroom and asked, "Are you having contractions?" 
And I said, "I think so." 

Abbreviated version!! 
I called my parents and Dad came to pick up Bo and Zooey. 
Doug & I left for the hospital around 8:30am - aka, just in time to maneuver rush hour traffic. 
It was raining. I don't really remember the drive because I was kneeling, 
backwards, with my face buried in a pillow in the passenger seat. 
We arrived at the hospital, I got out of the car and threw up. 
Sorry. That's as graphic as it's going to get. Maybe. 
Thankfully, I had a feeling I might get sick and had brought along a bag. 
I proceeded to throw up again, waiting for the elevator. 
Our doula, Julie, showed up at this moment and just came over and hugged me while I barfed. 
I got done, laughed and said, "Hi!" 
We managed to all get inside and to triage without me barfing again. 

Hey pregnant friends - 
has anyone ever explained how a doctor or midwife checks to see how dilated you are? 
Because somehow, despite our expensive birthing classes, 
no one ever really told me how excruciating this little detail is. 
So much so that, after being "checked for dilation", 
being told I was "3 centimeters - we are having this baby today!" - 
I proceeded to throw up again. 
Abbreviated version! Things progressed far more quickly than I anticipated. 
The contractions were coming fast & furious and I was throwing up quite a bit. 
My midwife, Jo, was concerned that I wasn't keeping any fluids down, so I got an IV. 
Now, it had been my hope & desire to have a natural birth. 
My mom delivered all 5 of us kids without pain meds, and I wanted to do the same. 
We took Bradley classes, I had practiced some labor positions & relaxation techniques... 
but then those contractions started coming one after the other 
and I was throwing up before I was even done with one... 
friends, family, frenemies - I got an epidural. 
And I am not at all disappointed in that decision. 
It allowed me to get some rest and regain some strength before trying to push a human out of me. 
Sorry, that's as graphic as it gets. I think. 

By 1pm, I was told that I was fully dilated and I could push, 
which might be simultaneously the most exciting and horrifying thing someone can say to a person.
 By 4pm, Jo told me that she was a little concerned because the baby's heart rate kept plummeting
 when I would push, and we'd have to "breath through" contractions so the baby could recover. 
I am so thankful that she told me as soon as she had any inclination that we might need an
 intervention. Around 4:30, we decided to bring in the on-call doctor to discuss forceps or vacuum
 delivery. As it turned out, the baby's head was tilted, which was the cause of our problems. 
The doctor recommended forceps, and we quickly consented. 
After that, it was one big push and people were telling me excitedly to open my eyes 
because suddenly THERE SHE WAS. And it was a SHE! 
And Doug was saying, "It's a girl!" 
And just like that, we had a daughter!

Willa Joy. 
Was it my "ideal birth"? No. 
In my ideal birth, Leslie Knope is my midwife 
and all the nurses are those cute singing birds from Cinderella. 
Julie is still my doula and still brings me the most amazing cupcakes in existence afterward. 
There is zero pain, we are all eating waffles and sharing jokes, 
and at one point I just laugh too hard and - boop! - there's Willa! 
Also, she is born potty-trained and Bo is instantly potty-trained as well. 
And surprise, we've been in Hawaii the whole time 
and the next day we all go to the beach and build sand castles. 

But I digress. 
No, it wasn't my ideal birth, but my daughter is safe and healthy and I'm safe and healing. 
Everyone who was there was awesome. The midwife, Julie, the nurses, the anesthesiologist, the 
doctor, and most of all, Doug - everyone was so encouraging and attentive and supportive. 
And during our stay afterward - let me just say, God bless good nurses! 
Heidi at Highland, you are my hero. 
The post-partum process has been harder and more wonderful than I imagined. 
My hormones are ca-ray-zay and have made me cry about... pretty much everything. 
How beautiful my little girl is. How tender Bo is toward her. 
How Bo's attention-seeking often results in frustrating tantrums. 
How lucky I am to be married to Doug. 
How in love I am with my children.
Et cetera. 

I am so thankful and humbled by our family & friends who have been supporting us. 
I haven't had to cook a single meal yet. 
We have hand-me-downs to last Willa until she's 3 months old. 
People have gotten gifts for Bo so he doesn't feel left out. 
Cousins have invited Bo over to play for the afternoon. 
Friends have sent encouraging text messages. 
And I want to say a huge thank you to everyone for the beautiful messages and congratulations. 
I feel so blessed and so loved (darn you, post-partum hormones... I will NOT cry). 
SO - from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you.