Being a new parent has been a heck of an adventure. We're zeroing in on Charleston's first birthday and I kind of just wanted to share some of my favorite moments of the year and parenting.

The first few months had very few favorite memories. But Charleston's birth is something I will never forget. After a couple of days of infrequent to regular contractions, she decided it was time Saturday night after Tennessee had just finished off a dominating win over Western Carolina. Thanks for waiting Charlie. It's amazing to me just how fast it all went. We were in the hospital before midnight, and Charleston born around 5am the next morning. And those 5 hours just flew by... okay to be fair, it was a lot easier for me than it was for Lauren. I even got to take a brief nap. Without going into graphic detail, watching what was previously just a baby sized lump suddenly become a crying baby was the most surreal and moving moment of my life. It just cannot be described.

The first few months involved a lot of feeding and crying. For Charleston and us. When Lauren went back to work, Charleston and I started having Monday nights together and for a while it was not fun. It was survival. But there were some sweet moments amidst the chaos. We all slept all over the house. For a long while there was almost always one of us sleeping downstairs with her in a rocker for a couple of hours every night. Just to give the other uninterrupted and slightly stress free sleep in bed. Charlie loved to be held then. She slept so much better nestled in our arms, especially with her face buried in a chest. So sometimes we were just searching for creative ways to both hold her and get comfortable enough to sleep along with her. One super early morning, I managed to get some sleep by nestling Charlie between my legs and putting a pile of pillows behind me.

Leg Cradle

The whole parenting thing got a lot better when Charleston started smiling back at us and even laughing. Finally a little positive feedback! She's a human who actually enjoys things on occasion. And oh man does she love smiling. We have to insist to people that she does cry because she is so social and smiley when she sees new faces. That part of her personality has been such a joy and made all the late night cry sessions totally worth it.

Smiling Charlie

One of the weird things about Charleston is her love for tags. Whenever she picks up a stuffed animal, she immediately searches it for the tag so she can chew on it. She has two little stuffed things that can only be described as animal blankets. Every time she goes to sleep she's holding one of them. When she gets a hold of them, she doesn't reach for the head, she finds the tag and plays with it or holds it up to her face while she falls asleep. It's so adorably weird. She can frequently be seen crawling around just dragging them with the tag in her mouth.

My friend Paul asked me earlier this summer what my favorite moment of the summer had been so far. It took a second, but I settled on something kind of unexpected. One of our first mornings at the beach with family this summer, Charleston decided to wake up early. It was annoyingly early. Like 5:30 early. But she was wearing these freaking cute sailboat PJs and I got to spend some quality time playing around with her. I'm an introvert who generally enjoys quiet mornings alone, but there was something so special about a playful morning with her.

Beach morning

We had another adorable moment this past week when we we're on vacation visiting our friends in Tampa. They have an aquarium in their living room and she loved it. She just kept looking over at the fish. She was talking to them and pointing to them. And because of that we decided to take her to the aquarium that week, which was pretty fun.

If I'm totally honest, this year has been full of some brutal adjustments. The first few months was just trying to survive while still loving a little ball of skin that cried, ate, and slept. There were many moments during that period where we wanted out. But as she grew into a tiny human with her smiles and personality, that despair went away. The next stage was just trying to regain some small part of our lives before Charlie. Spending time with friends and family has changed forever. Either we force our friends to come to our house, or we have to find a way to split up or leave Charleston with someone else, and that's a tough place to be. We've managed to balance it as best we can, but I know it will continue to be a struggle as she grows.

I simply cannot imagine doing this without our parents around. I'm so incredibly thankful for all the support and time they've given us. There have been and will continue to be struggles and disagreements about how to raise Charleston, but I prefer that so much to the idea of doing this without them. If you're raising a child without your parents around, I commend you because you are already a better parent than me. The process has given me a whole new level of appreciation for everything my own parents have done for me throughout my life. I still can't imagine the day where Charleston is an adult with a child of her own. It does not compute.

Okay this is getting long and rambly. But basically, babies are cute and difficult and weird and humbling and amazing. 4.5 ⭐️. Would recommend.