Weeks 31 & 32: Greenville Baby Shower!

Robert and I really enjoy doing active things together and have a hard time sitting still. We’re constantly on-the-go. During week 31, we played golf at a course that’s close to our house. I think that this baby weight helps keep my swing even because I play better golf pregnant with a little extra weight on my body than I do without it. 🙂

Since it’s started to get nice out after work, we’ve started taking nightly walks before dinner. We live in a neighborhood where people are out and about walking their dogs and with their children. It’s been nice to see different parts of the ‘hood on foot and start to meet our neighbors. Baby Girl loves our long walks- I can tell because sometimes she dances in my stomach as we walk up or down a hill.

31 Weeks!

31 Weeks!

On the weekend leading up to week 32, my mom and sister threw me a beautiful baby shower at the RiverWalk clubhouse. They made sure that everything was absolutely perfect from the  people who attended to the decor to the food. They truly are too good to me, and I cannot believe that I was blessed with such amazing women in my life. I feel fortunate that so many people came out to help celebrate Baby Wilson’s soon-to-be arrival. The love that they shared was overwhelming and I can’t even describe how it made us (Baby W and I) feel. We had friends stay with us that Friday and Saturday night, so by Sunday, Robert, baby and I were whooped. I spent the afternoon organizing the baby’s room and putting away all of her clothes and gifts from the shower. After our beautiful Greenville shower, Robert and I realized that we’re going to have baby stuff (Mommaroo, Pack-n-Play, toys, clothes, etc.) scattered all over most of our house when Baby Wilson arrives- and we CAN’T WAIT.

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Happy Maddy

I woke up with a huge smile on my face today. Why? Because I’m completely happy. Plain and simple. I’m excited and over the moon about everything that’s going on in my life right now. A few things I’ve been focused on over the past few weeks:

Family– Over the past month, I’ve seen my family quite a bit. My mom and sister came to Atlanta in late March to wedding dress shop and… dun dun dun… we found the dress! It’s absolutely gorgeous and I love, love, love it.

A couple of weeks ago, my family met up in Charleston for a long weekend of celebrating my Aunt Marg’s 60th birthday, running the Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run, watching Venus and Serena face-off at the Family Circle Cup and shopping on King Street. The laughs, stories and love that we shared made it a perfect weekend.

Last weekend, I went home to Greenville, SC to meet our day-of wedding planner and celebrate Kim’s 50th birthday with a surprise party.  First: the wedding planner. Love her. We met with her at a Starbucks in DT Greenville and chatted about everything wedding-wise for about 2 hours. She gave us opinions on bands, rehearsal dinner spots, caterers and day-of ideas. My mom, sister and I have similar opinions and it was nice to have a third party affirm most of our thoughts.

Later that night, we headed over to Nancy’s house for Kim’s surprise party. My mom and her friends had planned the big she-bang for about 4 months and it paid off. The party, people and personalized pillows were perfect. 🙂  My mom read a beautiful poem honoring Kim and she had the whole party laughing and smiling throughout the entire reading. Robert leaned over to me while my mom was presenting the poem and said, “Now I know where you got your writing skills.”

Work: I’m loving it. I’ve been conducting intern interviews over the past few weeks and explaining what it means to be a Porter  Novelli employee. Throughout each meeting with potential candidates, I’m realizing more and more how much I love PN. This agency compares to none. It truly is awesome. I come into work every day looking forward to working with my team. I’m given the chance to be creative, learn, grow, and have fun in a collaborative environment with positive, smart people. I have a wonderful coach on my team who wants and encourages me to grow. I can’t say enough nice things about this place.  Ok. Enough of drinking the PN Kool-Aid… moving on….

Robert– [Gush warning] In the beginning of my post, I said that I wake up with a smile on my face. A lot of that has to do with the fact that in less than 10 short months, I’m going to marry the most amazing man thatI’ve ever met (besides my dad). And the sparkly diamond on my finger reminds me of that every day.  Even though we’re technically in a long distance relationship still, Robert and I talk about 15 times a day via phone calls, texts and even sometimes emails.  Each conversation and visit makes me fall more in love with him. He is sincerely interested in my day, my feelings, my to-do list, my work stories, my workout progress, my family, and the list goes on and on. And I’m really interested in everything in his life. Robert is a rare gem, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us.  🙂 

All in all, I’m very fortunate and thankful for everything that’s been going in my life. I try not to take things for granted because, as we unfortunately saw earlier this week in Boston, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.   

Life lately.

Last weekend, I went home to Greenville to wedding dress shop with my mom and sister. After three stores and about twenty dresses, we sill didn’t find “the dress.” Even though the final dress decision wasn’t made, we had a great time breaking down the dresses and picking out what we liked/disliked about each one. I tried on dresses of every size, shape and material, so now I have a better understanding of what I want The One to look like. The best part about dress shopping was spending the whole day with my mom and sister laughing and chatting and sharing opinions.

The rest of last weekend was filled with listening to bands online, looking at photographers’ websites and vegging out with my family and Robert.

This week, I went to San Francisco for work and fell in love with the city.

I’m currently in Hendersonville helping Robert insert a sump pump into his basement. By help, I mean I’m sitting in the sun, listening to country music, watching my handy man saw and break up concrete, and blogging.

Here are pics detailing my life lately according to my iPhone:

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8 Ways to Raise A Confident Female

An article on Forbes.com titled “8 Ways to Raise A Confident Female,” popped up on my Facebook newsfeed a couple of weeks ago, and it rang so true that I had to share it with my mom and dad.  The article describes the top eight things that parents should do in order to raise confident daughters. 

I had to look at the byline of the article a couple of times, because from the tips that were given, I could have sworn that it was written by one or both of my parents. Below are the tips that the Forbes article mentioned and how my parents checked off each touch-point.

  1. Tell her you believe in her. As I was growing up, my accomplishments were always recognized by my parents and my failures were always discussed.  There was no doubt in my mind that my parents backed me on everything that I’ve ever done. And there’s no doubt that they still back me on my current endeavors.  Every time that I visit home one or both of my parents tell me that they’re proud of me.
  2. Get her outside. My parents always encouraged Merrick and me to be outside.  During the summer and even the school year, we were outside from sun-up to sun-down playing soccer, dodgeball, golf, kickball, rollerbat and swimming.  I can’t even count the amount of times that my parents took us hiking, camping or to the beach to “get us outside.”
  3. Pursue her interests. Sports were always mine and my sister’s biggest interests when we were younger and my parents encouraged those interests by volunteering in big ways within our sports organizations.  They took on multiple activities that were no easy tasks: coaching soccer, presiding as swim team president, presiding as varsity soccer president, timing and stroke and turning at swim meets, volunteering as a field marshal at soccer tournaments, driving golf carts at every SCJGA event, and much more.  Now, as we’ve grown older, they’ve supported my sister and me in our new interests like our education at Clemson (by attending CU football games), our participation in non-profits (by attending annual fundraising events) and even our love for social media (my parents have now joined Twitter/LinkedIn/FB).
  4. Minimize the princess. Merr and I have never gone without, but we were never treated or taught to believe that we were princesses.  My parents were very realistic in the way that they raised us.  I expect to be treated by a princes now (by Robert :-)) but it’s not in a high-maintenance sort of way.  For this, I am very thankful.
  5. Parent with empathy.  My mom has this super-natural power of empathizing with me. I’m not sure if it’s a mother’s intuition (that maybe I’ll inherit one day), or if she’s just super-mom.  She empathizes when I have a bad day, when I’m feeling sick, when my tires need replacing, when I’m in a tiff with a friend… and the list goes on and on. I know that whatever I’m going through, I can talk to my parents about it because somehow they can relate to what I’m going through and I know they’ll be on my side- no matter what.
  6. Help her love her looks.  Both of my parents are in great shape are comfortable in their own skin.  Their feelings of body image have filtered down to Merrick and myself.  Every time that my mom or dad mentions our looks, it’s through positive comments like, “I can tell you’ve been working out,” or “You look adorable in that outfit.” It’s so much easier to love your body when your parents consistently give positive reinforcement around looks.
  7. Sign her up for sports.  I’m not sure you’ll meet a pair of sisters who played four different sports when they were young (soccer, tennis, golf and swimming).  My parents introduced us to each of these activities at a young age and encouraged our participation as we grew older.  Their ultimate goal was that we’d learn these sports so that one day, we could all play as a family.  Now, Merr and I can competitively play my parents in both tennis and golf.  Growing up with sports in our lives has not only made us more confident, but also helped pulled our family together with our similar interests.
  8. Show interest in her academics. My parents saved our old kitchen table in our attic and recently started using it again when Merr took our newer one to MUSC.  When they brought it down from the attic, you could see numbers and letters engraved into it in clear elementary-aged students’ handwriting.  I vividly remember sitting at that table with my mom and dad talking about problems in Math Superstars, English papers about Shakespeare and even learning how to tell time. My parents both took a vested interest in our studies, and in a roundabout way, the table markings explain why Merrick and I did so well in school.

After sharing this article with my mom and dad, my mom sent me a text that said, “And to think, we didn’t read any parenting guides.” Well guess what? I guess I won’t be reading them either.

Winter Break

Late December is a time that I always look forward to every year because I know it’s a special time that I can spend with my family and take a break from the hustle and bustle of ATL. I can’t believe how fast Christmas break came and disappeared within the blink of an eye. I had an action-packed break that included a wonderful Christmas with my family, a cruise to the Bahamas with the Wilsons and New Year’s Eve at the Charleston Aquarium.

Christmas Break

I was fortunate enough to head back to Greenville a few days before Christmas so that I could shop with my mom and sister and spend quality time with my family.  It was a nice time to lay in our cozy family room by the fire and just relax.  My family seems to get really sentimental around the holidays and this year was no exception. The talks, laughs and tears that we shared over a five-day period are ones that I’ll remember forever.

Cruise

I’d never been on a cruise before, so when Robert invited me to join his family on a Carnival cruise to the Bahamas, I didn’t know what to expect.  We took off on our trip a couple of days after Christmas from a port in Jacksonville and traveled to Nassau and Freeport on our four-day trip.  It was an awesome trip filled with bright sunshine (minus one day), dancing, meeting new people, hanging out with Robert’s family, sight-seeing, shopping, tanning, gambling, attending shoes, eating great food, submerging in freezing water, bartering with locals and, of course, drinking frozen piña coladas with umbrellas neatly placed in them. 🙂 A few of my favorite pics below:

Right when we hopped on the boat!

Right when we hopped on the boat!

The whole Wilson crew plus Derrick and me.

The whole Wilson crew plus Derrick and me.

In front of Atlantis in Nassua.

In front of Atlantis in Nassau.

On the beach in Freeport (a little chilly)!

On the beach in Freeport (a little chilly)!

Robert got a little artistic with his photography skills. :-)

Robert got a little artistic with his photography skills. 🙂

New Years Eve

We headed straight to Charleston from Jacksonville after disembarking from the cruise ship.  We arrived at my sister’s in late afternoon to get ready for our last night of 2012.  The event that we attended at the Charleston Aquarium was a soiree that is highly attended by most 20-something Charleston residents and visitors.  I was amazed at how beautiful the whole place looked.  In addition to walking around and looking at the huge fish, we ate a great meal and danced our butts off until way after the ball dropped.  I can say, hands down, that this year was my favorite and most memorable NYE thanks, in its entirety, to the people with whom I spent it. My favorite pics below:

Sam, Merr, me and Robert before the Charleston Aquarium NYE event.

Sam, Merr, me and Robert before the Charleston Aquarium NYE event.

Greenville Girls

Greenville Girls

Home for the Holidays

Throughout November, I tweeted something that I’m thankful for every day. It’s the first time that I’ve taken part in this activity, and it was an awesome way for me to take a step back and truly pinpoint the most important people, places and things in my life.  This past Thanksgiving, I was happy to be home and I’m excited to head back there tomorrow for my Christmas vacation.

There’s something so comforting about going home. I love pulling into my parents neighborhood because so many memories come rushing back as soon as I hit the first speed bump (zipping around the streets in my VW Cabrio, riding bikes up and down the river paths, playing kickball/dodgeball/rollerball in the streets, etc.).  Once I reach our cul-de-sac, I immediately look to see which seasonal flag my mom has hung and what colors she’s chosen for the pretty candles on our big front porch.  Usually, one of my parents is in the kitchen window cleaning dishes when I arrive, so they see and greet me in our garage when I park. No matter what time of day or night that I arrive, my parent’s responses are most always the same. Dad’s? “Madddyyy…. good to see you.” Mom’s? “Hey! Look how cute you look.” 🙂 I look forward to these greetings every time I head back.

Home to me means heart-to-heart talks with my family, game nights, good smells, comfy couches, warm fires, reminiscing, soundly sleeping, learning about the neighborhood gossip, MiMi’s take-out with Merr, visiting with friends, shopping, sharing the same room with my sister, pretty flowers in the kitchen, cards strewn about the mantle, relaxing, and inevitable tears when I leave.

I can’t WAIT to see my family tomorrow night! 🙂

Jamming in July

It’s seems as though these posts are coming further and further apart… Here are the big events that went down in July and early August…

La Quinceanara

Robert works (and travels) with a lot of men from Mexico and has become good friends with them.  Earlier this year, he was asked to be a godfather of one of his worker’s daughter. Guess what that means? On July 7, Robert, Robert’s dad and I attended a Mexican girl’s 15-year-old birthday party, aka a Quinceanara.

It was something that I’ve never experienced before and I’m so glad that we were a part of it.  One of my favorite parts was the choreographed dance to which both the Quince, Vanessa, and her court of men danced.  Up until this song, we’d only heard upbeat, Spanish country music from the DJ in the corner.  However, once the English song started up, I knew that I recognized the tune… “Turn Around” by Bonnie Tyler. If you want to see a video of the choreographed dance (not the actual one that I witnessed), check this out.

After the dance, we saw the celebration of Vanessa, and watched the ceremony as she was changed from a little girl (wearing flats, minimal make-up and a big gown) into a young woman (she was crowned with a tiara and her flat shoes were changed to high heels).

Then, the DJ announced (in Spanish) that every man who helped contribute to the Quinceanera would be asked to dance with Vanessa and his date would dance with one of the men on her court.  We watched about 45 minutes of other men dance with Vanessa before we heard the final name called…. “JUNIOR WILSON!” (Robert’s dad is also named Robert, so he’s technically a junior.)  Robert looked at me and said “Lessgo.”  We hopped on up to the middle of the dance floor and boogied for a couple of minutes before the song ended.

We headed out after the big dance. I hope that we are invited to more Quinceanaras in the future. 🙂

Hilton Head:

For the past 17 years, my family has taken a week-long vacation in Hilton Head, SC.  Since I graduated from Clemson and started working, I hadn’t had the chance to take off a full week to join them. This year, that all changed.  I was able to spend a full week with my family in beautiful Sea Pines.  We played tennis every morning, went to the beach every day, shopped, ate at our favorite restaurants and listened to Dave Kimmerly andGregg Russell.  I love spending time with my family, and especially in HHI.  We have so many memories, and it’s a place that I can’t wait to take my family when the time comes.

Merr and Me in Hilton Head

My mom and dad in Harbor Town

Atlanta Open Tennis Finals:

On our way back from Hilton Head, we came past Atlantic Station and were reminded that the Atlanta Open was in town.  We decided to look for tickets on Sunday morning and found fairly cheap tickets for the finals! Needless to say we spent our Sunday afternoon watching tennis (mostly just AndyRoddick) and loving every minute of sitting in the blazing sun drinking cool brewskis.

Atlanta Open Tennis Finals Tickets

Right next to the finals court after Roddick won!

My Birthday!:

This year is was my Star Birthday! I turned 24 on July 24. I got the chance to celebrate with all of the people that are most important to me.  I went to dinner with my family at the beach, celebrated with Robert in Hilton Head and celebrated with my roomies at Maggiano’s on my actual birth day.  I am excited to see what 24 has in store for me. Since it’s my star birthday I have a feeling it’s going to be a big year. Bring it on.

After my birthday dinner with Roberto

Atlanta Weekend:

Lauren and Brandon had friends (Sam and Erin) from Penn State in town the weekend after my birthday. People who have visitors to their hometown should take hosting notes from Lauren.  She knows exactly how to show people around ATL. We took Sam and Erin out in Buckhead on  Friday night and Virginia Highlands on Saturday. Lauren took them to see the Atlanta touristy sites on Saturday and Sunday before they left. I love it when my roommates (and Brandon) have friends come visit because I get to meet and learn a bit more about their pasts.

The group out with Sam and Erin!

Garden City:

We took our second annual trip to Hally Ho (Margo’s beach house in Garden City) over the first weekend in August. It was a blast. Her house sleeps around 15 people and I’m pretty sure we filled up all of those sleeping spots (plus maybe more?) during our stay. The coolest part was that people from all over the southeast (Atlanta, Columbia, Spartanburg, Charleston, Hendersonville and… Hartsville) came and celebrated all weekend long.

The weekend was filled with friends, beach time, swimming, games, dancing-dancing-dancing, singing (screaming) at the top of our lungs with bands, Hot Fish clubbing, dinner on the marsh walk, a boat ride (Capt. Madison drove), seeing my friends from Clemson and meeting some of Margo’s friends from USC.

The Brampire (Branny) also bought some swim caps for us to “do the swim cap trick”. Don’t know what the swim cap trick is? Watch here. We only fit one person in the swim cap at a time, but it was way better than the people in that video. At one point, my entire body was inside the cap as Robbie carried me around the ocean.

I’m so thankful that Margo let all of us gather at her beach house. Good thing these trips are a year apart so that we always forget the actual distance (7 hours) from ATL to Garden City when Margo says it “takes about 5 hours.”   I already can’t wait until next year’s trip. 🙂

Before our marsh walk dinner

Some of the Hally Ho girls