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Priority Check

3 Mar

This blog post is a slap in the face for myself. Well, maybe more of a glass of cold water in my face. Less painful but still serves the purpose – I need to reset my priorities.

Far too often, I lose sight of what really matters. I start worrying about superficial things. Things out of my control. I obsess about something someone said. Whether something bad is going to happen. I spend too much time and energy focusing on inanimate objects. My car needs washed. The shower needs scrubbed. The to-do list grows. I forgot to pay a bill. Those pieces of paper with post-its that I get at work…

Water. Face.

I’m not saying that I shouldn’t care about those things – I just need to take my care level down a notch or 20. I need to remember what matters most. As a toddler Nia would say, “My peoples.” Family. Friends. I think of them and the rest is tamed with a more relaxed mind and heart.

Towel for my face, please. That’s better.



Valentine Views

15 Feb

Nia's Pile of Sweet Sayings

I can’t believe I’m just now realizing how Valentine’s Day brings out some interesting opinions and reactions in people – even at a young age. There are those who are anti-“Hallmark” holiday. Those who do just enough to swoon their significant other. Those who may go overboard. And those who are encouraged to participate. I suppose that last category can apply to adults too but I’m thinking about it more related to kids.

Like many young kids, both Nia and Nate had valentine exchanges at school. They were given a list of all the children in their class to make sure no one was left out. I always enjoyed doing these exchanges as a kid and remember all the fun and creativity that went into the boxes for collecting the treasures. I remember how extravagant some of the boxes were. I have a memory of one child’s being not a box at all but a mini-Love Boat. (Mine was always a shoe box covered in construction paper with hand-drawn crooked hearts and predictable love messages on it.)

They don’t ask us to create boxes like that now – just have the kids write out their card of choice to all the other children. Some people add to that with candy, scrapbook-type elegance or even individual goody bags. Others don’t give any valentine at all. It made me wonder if their parents just didn’t take the time to do it with them or maybe they can’t afford such a treat-type thing or maybe the child/parent just didn’t want to buy into the “Hallmark” holiday. Whatever the reason, for future V-Days, I plan to donate a few boxes of blank cards to the classroom so that all kids can participate if they’d like. After all, soon enough the exchange won’t be mandated so that even the little mean Johnny/Suzy gets a Be Mine card. It will be more strategic. Where only a someone special is wished Be Mine. Picking and choosing a Valentine. What age does that start?

It seems Nia is already creeping toward that. While writing hers out, she was so concerned about running out of the standard “Happy Valentine’s Day” cards and having to give a non-BFF a BFF card. Nate wanted to make sure all of his friends would like the card they got. He was worried about giving the girls a Buzz or Woody character card because, “they’re girls.” When I told him that they will love to get any card he gives them, he relaxed a bit but still made every effort to give them either the cowgirl, Jessie, or the horse, Bullseye.


Nate's Love Wishes

I suppose I remember reading into my mandatory valentines some when I was a kid. Is so-and-so really “head over heels” for me?! He must be! I mean, he picked this card just to give to me, right?!

Glad I kept that all to myself. That would have been embarrassing to admit out loud.

And then she started screaming, “Peanut Butter Crackers!”

15 Mar

Ever hear two little girls, ages 4 and 5, talk on the phone?  Nia’s friend Nicole calls her every couple of days just to make sure her favorite colors are still pink, purple and blue and if she’s changed her mind about who her favorite princess is.  It is a riot.  Tonight, I actually got some of the conversation (if you can call it that!) on camera and thought you might like to watch Nia act all grown up and stuff.  She even told Nate to go away because he was being too noisy!

After I stopped the camera, Andrew and I really cracked up.  Nicole asked Nia what she did at school today and  I told her to tell Nicole what she had for a snack.  Although Nicole had started talking about something else, Nia just started yelling “Peanut Butter Crackers!”  She kept yelling it because she thought Nicole’s “what’s?” meant she couldn’t hear what Nia was saying but really Nicole had no idea why Nia was shouting “Peanut Butter Crackers!” at her.

I think I’m going to try that next time I get an unwanted phone call. “Hello?” “Hello Ms. Va-yez?” “Peanut Butter Crackers!”  “Ah, yes, is Ms. Va-lez there?”  “Peanut! Butter! Crackers!”

Yep.  Sounds like a plan.

Girls’ Night

25 Feb

Dinner for one at a trendy restaurant in Buckhead-Atlanta – $47 (two glasses of Sangria and tip included)

A glass of wine, a Coke for the designated driver and the tip at the Ritz Carlton (also in Buckhead-Atlanta) – $20

Times I feared for my life while being driven in an SUV by a girl I hardly knew – 3 (but it made for some laughs!)

Number of movies we all knew the lines to – 9

Hours I spent away from my family – 7 and a half

Fun I had while sharing a night out with the girls – Tons

How much I appreciate and love Andrew for being so cool about my night out with the girls – Immeasurable
(He even did all the dishes and put them away!)

*Thanks to my neighbor, Allison, for thinking of me and liking me enough to invite me along with her buddies!

Mr. Rogers would be proud

21 Feb

I’ve been so fortunate to have lived next door to some really wonderful people.  I really can’t take credit for any of it – my mom and dad picked the first house and with our two houses, we had no idea who lived next to us.  Call it fate or luck or God or whatever you want to call it, but so far, we’ve had some of the best neighbors.

The neighbors I had while I was growing up are like family to me.  I’m so happy they are there for my mom and that my mom is there for them.  We’ve always had the key to their house and they’ve always had ours.  We’ve shared in ALL the happy family moments together, as well as the sad ones.  I couldn’t imagine my life without them.  I even got introduced to their culture and religion, attending Greek Bible School with them and even learning some of their language and traditions.  Words really can’t touch the appreciation and love I have for them.

When we lived in Savannah, the couple across the street helped take care of me while Andrew was deployed in Iraq and I was pregnant.  They landscaped our front yard and decorated our house for Andrew’s homecoming.  When they moved away, we tried to stay in touch.  One time, we ran into each other at the Atlanta Zoo and it was only because they recognized my laugh echoing through the trees!  I heard, “Nicole Valles, is that you?!?!”  It was a great feeling and we still continue to try to keep in touch.

Our neighbors now, Allison and James, are just as wonderful.  They’ve done the usual ‘neighborly’ thing of caring for our turtle, Clark, while we’re away and collecting our mail, but they’ve also alerted us to two outdoor spectacles that we would have missed if it wasn’t for them – the snow that fell here last month and tonight’s lunar eclipse.  Allison has even invited me to go with her and her friends for a birthday celebration this weekend in Atlanta!  I was like, “She likes me!  She really likes me!”  And so far, I haven’t done anything embarrassing to change her mind!


Never Too Old for Slumber Parties

16 Nov

It’s funny because if we still lived in Savannah, I would be able to enjoy the company of good friends whenever I wanted.  I would be able to call them up on any random day and say “let’s meet up for dinner.”  I would be able to spend any weekend afternoon at the park with them or brave the mall with babies in tow.  As much as I would love to be able to do those things, one thing living several hours away has done is require SLEEP OVERS!

I have always loved having friends stay over my house.  My mom spoiled me by letting me have anywhere from 5 to 12 pre-teen/teen girls keep her awake with our giggles and screams and New Kids on the Block song renditions (choreographed dances included).  Now that I’m older, the sleep overs have changed – we sure don’t stay up very late (1 am was insane!), we are now legally allowed to drink as much alcohol as we dare to, our conversations are about kids and money instead of which boy is cute and clothes/hair/weight – oh wait I’m wrong about that last one – weight is still a topic – but anyway – some things never change – like the comfort and security and sanity that good friends provide.

I loved getting to spend so much time with Ginger, Lee and Cami last weekend.  We didn’t even have to do anything and it was fun.  Watching the kids play – fun.  Sitting on the couch and chillin’ (often with laptops) – fun.  Heading out to Winder’s Fall Festival without knowing if it would be lame or not – fun (actually lots of fun).  It was just so awesome getting my “friend fix” for 4 days straight and being able to celebrate Ginger’s birthday with her.  I can only hope that we always try to do our best to share as many special events as we can together.  After all, Ginger was part of one of the most special events in my life (Nia’s birth) and it just feels so natural to have our families grow up together.  (And maybe even be able to watch our girls share more sleep overs!)

So Comfy


Tiny Girlfriends

13 Aug

So Sweet

This weekend Nia got to have a blast with her best friend from Savannah.  Avery and her parents came to stay with us and it was such a great time.  It just amazes me how much these two little girls click.  They went to the same daycare together since they were like six months old or something and were inseparable from the start. Their cribs were even next to each other!  Taking Nia away from her Avery was really hard for us but it seems (thankfully) the distance hasn’t hurt their friendship. 

As soon as Avery got in the door (around 11:00 pm Friday) Nia and her were hugging and screaming and destroying the house.  It was so awesome hearing them giggling at 7:00 am and watching them hold hands as they walked.  This was the first “sleepover” for both girls and they did great.  They actually went to sleep and they were in the same room!  They were playing really hard though and we did keep them super busy.

On Saturday, we went to Stone Mountain Park and stayed out until 11:00 pm watching a laser/fireworks show on the mountain.  Before that, the kids ran around like crazy in a big barn full of foam balls and nets to climb.

Best of Friends

On Sunday, we went back to the Georgia Aquarium (it was Avery’s first visit there) and had a picnic near the tank of the Beluga Whales.  (It was so crowded there we couldn’t find a table!  It all worked out for the best though – just look at what we got to see while we ate!)

Our Entertainment during Lunch

The girls played so well together and it was like they had never been apart.  Andrew and I got along really great with Avery’s parents too (even the big kids had a ton of fun) so I know we’ll be seeing more of them – I just wish the girls could grow up together.  We just have to do all we can to make sure they keep in touch and see each other as much as possible – it would just be so sad to not see where their friendship leads.


The Valles Home is Vacant

2 Aug

We were booked up all through July but now it’s just us again and I’m trying to adapt.  It went something like this –

  • Our friends Chris and Julie arrived first
  • Andrew’s mom (“Lola”) came next
  • Andrew’s sister (Aunt “Ree”) and our niece Baby Ella came to take Lola home with them (we are good sharers)
  • just us for a few days (I read Harry Potter!)
  • Andrew’s mom came back with his dad (Papa Dave)
  • Papa Nick and Grandma Kris made the trip down here

A lot of the visits overlapped each other too – Lola first came down while Chris and Julie were here and that worked out great – we played board games and she watched the kids for us while Chris, Julie and us hit Atlanta for a fun night out.  My dad’s visit also overlapped Lola’s and Papa Dave’s but that turned out to be just fine too – we all went to the zoo and had a great time.  It’s just a blessing that we have a house that can accommodate everyone.  It would not have been possible at our Savannah house that’s for sure!

I’m just so thankful for all of the visitors we had – they brought so much love, laughter and comfort to us and it’s so hard to say goodbye and adjust to not having anyone here.  Nia will wake up and ask where people are.  Nate was picking up new words (he actually says Mommy now!) while everyone was here and I saw how they all helped his little brain get a boost.  (With me he only walks around talking like a caveman.)  We were so spoiled and the only reason that I’m not all down-in-the-dumps is because I know I’ll be seeing some of them and more (my mom and Ginger, Lee and Cami) in a month on the beach!  My dad and Kris just left us yesterday and Nia already asked, “When’s Honey (my mom) coming?”  Not soon enough!


10 Jul

Our Winder friends are moving.  We’ve grown really close to Monica, Steven, Sofi and Will over these past 8 months and it really hasn’t fully hit me yet. Steven was offered a great job near the Georgia/Florida line and will be moving there in 3 weeks.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for them and I am genuinely happy for them but the selfish side of me is super sad. I just can’t imagine living in this city without them.  They’re the reason I joined the Y, went to story hour at the library and basically survived during the weekdays since we’ve been here.  It’s been really hard to try to explain it to Nia too.  She still has pictures of her Savannah friends on display in her room – she still asks me when she’s going to get to see them.  How am I supposed to tell her that she’s losing another buddy?

What’s even more sad about the whole thing is I don’t know if we’ll stay close after they move.  I’d like to hope we’ll still talk on the phone and try to see each other – but I don’t know…

Some friends you can pick right up where you left off even after you haven’t talked/seen each other in months or even years.  Some friends you think of during the stupidest of moments or the most serious of moments and you know they would totally understand what you’re going through right then.  The two of you are so close that you never have to worry about what you say – you know that no matter what they are going to love you and be there for you.  You just know you are supposed to be friends.

As I grow up, I’ve come to realize that those good friends are hard to find and if you are lucky enough to find them – you need to do all you can to make sure distance, time or a disagreement don’t keep you apart.  Love ya pals!


Thanks for Liking Me

30 May

I am feeling pretty great right now.  I just had a super fun weekend with my good friend Julie and her mom.  Julie’s the kind of friend you don’t need to talk to all the time or see (haven’t been together since we lived it up in Atlanta in 2005) to know you’re friends.

We were practically inseparable while our husbands were at war and I treasure every minute I shared with her during that time. I know we both helped each other through all of the uncertainty and stress and I couldn’t even imagine what it would have been like for me and the Bean without her.

I have so many fun memories because of her (and a really awesome set of pink high heels) and I feel lucky to be able to call her my friend.  I look forward to the next time we can watch t.v., go shopping, drink yummy fraps or play a board game (even though she wins all the time) together. (Julie, this means you need to call me and book your next trip to Resort Valles!  I will leave fancy chocolates on your pillow next time! Miss you!)