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Bright Night Event: How's This For Muchness

Several weeks back 
a blogger who I follow, Whippycake
posted about being the keynote speaker at a blogger event.
I'd never been to any event bigger than like a lunch
or a one speaker occasion,
but the more I read about this event,
the more I felt I wanted to be a part of it.
Luckily I'd had a garage sale and had enough extra money
for the ticket,
so I marked it on my calendar and looked forward to it.

The day of the event arrived
and suddenly,
so did a suffocating fear.
I had no one to go with
and no idea what to wear.
I literally knew NO ONE who was going.
I have blogger pals
and even my sister goes to blogging things with me,
but this time,
I was completely alone.
For eight hours.

I was terrified.
My sister did my hair and makeup
to give me a little boost of confidence.
Then I came home and tried on a million things
and kept thinking of what combinations of heels and a skirt
I could wear.
In the end my stress won out
and I rushed out of the house in the only things
I could bear to have on.
Loose, farmer style overalls
and Zuzii tennis shoes.

I put my red lipstick on to help me gather my courage.

I got to the event and everywhere I looked
I saw heels, skirts, and dresses.
These gorgeous ladies were dressed to impress
and all I could focus on was doubting myself.
Why was I wearing my dslr camera,
everyone else was using their phones to take photos?
Stupid choice.

I found the courage to sit down at a table -
one with people already sitting there
since there were no empty tables.
I was amazed that after weeks of anticipation
and excitement for the event
I found myself trying talk myself out of running for my life.
I chimed in when people spoke to me before the event began,
and I even probably looked excited as I tried to blend,
but in my head I was choked with fear
and I kept telling myself not to leave.
Inevitably when people talk to me for a while,
I tell them that I'm an "extroverted introvert."
In situations with people I know
and environments where I am in control,
I am quite extroverted.
However, in situations where I don't know anyone,
I will panic in silence
and respond only when spoken to.
I will try to go along with whatever is happening
but I may also quietly have a panic attack.

This is exactly what was happening.
Inside my head I was saying,
"I can go now, before it starts, and go get whatever I want for dinner."
"But I paid for the ticket."
"It's ok, they gave me a fun swag bag so that's worth it."
"But you wanted to hear Whippy speak."
"She doesn't even know me though and it won't matter if I stay."
"Just stay to hear Whippy speak and if you do,
you can be really proud of yourself."
"Ok, just long enough to hear Whippy speak."
"Look a tiny cupcake! I'll take a photo for my little girl!
She loves cupcakes."
Soon Whippy took the stage and began to give her presentation.
To my great surprise,
I found myself tearing up about half way through as
she talked about emotional connection and human touch
and how vital they are to us thriving.
She shared a story that truly opened my heart
and I thought about my daughter.
"My daughter loves when I wear lipstick."
I smiled to myself.
"She likes my overalls too.
Whippy is almost done!
I can make it!"

Soon she was finished and we were told to choose what class
we wanted to rotate to next.
 I looked at the schedule and saw that
one of them was a hand lettering class
that I had also really been looking forward to.
"You can't leave now,"
I thought.
"You just have to go to this one last class.
It will be fun."
"But I'll have to go sit by people I don't know. Again!
And who knows what might happen!"
"You might get better at calligraphy and hand lettering.
Nothing bad will happen.
Just stay for one more class
and then you can leave and be proud of yourself."
I talked myself into it
and then headed over for the hand lettering class.

I immersed myself in practicing the lettering
and halfway through the class,
the photographer for the event walked in.
I knew her!
It was Chrissy.
Someone I knew!
If was like a gasp of air after being pummeled down by waves of water.

She snapped some shots of me with my letters that I was practicing
and smiled as she left.
And I thought,
"I can do this."
Seeing her gave me just enough courage to keep going.

As the class wound down,
I clapped for the teacher
and then gathering my practice papers
and my swag bag.
I walked out to my car,
opened the door and put them inside.
"Now I can go. Phew! I did two blocks!"
I thought.
"But why leave now then? Don't you have enough courage for one more class?
After that it's just dinner.
You like dinner!
You're starving!"
"Oh come on. I was only going to stay for that class."
"But you could be really proud of yourself if you stayed for the last one too."
"Fine. But no dinner.
I'll get dinner by myself later."

I stared at my items in the car as if resolving myself to pick my purse back up
and finally,
I walked away from the car
and back into the building.

I walked into my last class
having no idea what the speaker would talk about.
I just wanted to prove to myself that I COULD stay.
In the back of the room I saw Whippy
and thought,
"I am proud of myself for staying to hear her.
I should get a picture with her to remind myself that I was brave."
I stared for about five minutes awkwardly as I managed to
get up the courage
and finally I walked up and asked her to take a selfie with me.
That was pretty much all I said.
It was awkward.
I do awkward well.
But we took a photo
and I felt brave.

The class started shortly thereafter,
and I realized that Natalie was far from an ordinary speaker.
She seemed to be expressing with every word
that she cared for me and saw my value.
That I didn't need to doubt myself.
She quoted Alice in Wonderland
during her presentation where the Mad Hatter says,

"You're not the same as you were before.
You were much more muchier.
You've lost your muchness."

Later Alice says to him,
"How's this for muchness?"
when she has found herself again.

As I walked out of that last class,
I realized that I had made it.
All that was left was dinner.
I walked out with more of my muchness
than when I arrived
and I found a little more of what I'd been missing.

Everyone else was thrilled to eat a yummy dinner
and dance the night away,
but I was simply ecstatic that I'd made it through the whole event
and no one really knew just how much courage
it had taken.
How's that for muchness, I thought to myself.
As I stood in line to get a Sodalicious drink,
I spotted the gorgeous photo booth set up.
I'm not here with anyone though,
I thought.
Then my courage rose
and I suddenly knew I HAD to have my picture taken.
Just me and my muchness.
And I somehow knew that I wouldn't look at it and point out the things I didn't like.
I would look at it and see my muchness within me.

I grabbed Chrissy who obliged me by shooting
a couple photos for me with my camera
and then I looked at the back of the camera
at that tiny screen
and sure enough,
I loved them.
I stood in line for my "Southern Gentleman" drink from Sodalicious
and even made a new friend.
And then,
when I headed home,
I was a different me
than the one that had come.
And I felt good.
I had glimpsed my muchness
and I was determined to chase it down
until it was all mine. 
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Diaper Bag Must-Have: Gerber Lil' Beanies

Well, around here, a man-eating (just about)
toddler has pretty much taken over our house.
Our little lady is ALWAYS hungry
and so I'm always trying to get creative
with new snacks for her.

I always have very specific snacks specifications
that I look for too since
it gets hot here in Arizona
and I can't lug around snacks that will melt or go bad
(which seems like a majority of them).
I also can't stand when I can't hand
the poor girl snacks in the car because
they'll drip all over her
or stain her clothes.

Recently Gerber reached out to us
(insert girly squeal here because we love Gerber)
and asked us to try one of their brand new snacks.
Ummm let's think about this.
Svea, do you want more yummy food?
Ok. YAS.

We headed over to Target
(you know, since it's our second home)
to pick up some of Gerber's Lil' Beanies snacks
and try them out.
Svea was literally so hungry
(after just having lunch)
that I had to beg her to wait to eat them
until after we checked out.
She would have made it too
had I not gotten, er, lost
in the home decor section.
We picked out both of the yummy new flavors
of Lil' Beanies:

-White Cheddar & Broccoli

Svea was thrilled to try out some delicious snacks
and I was hopeful that this healthy snack
would be tasty and a perfect diaper bag addition.
Sure enough,
when my little lady tried them out
she instantly loved them.
Me, I was ecstatic!
These navy bean-based snacks with 2 grams of protein,
1 gram of fiber,
and vitamin E,
were not only delicious
(to both of us)
but they also don't drip, melt, or stain!
Baked and made with no genetically engineered ingredients,
I realized that we had a winner
for our diaper bag go-to snack stash!
Now they've become a staple in our diaper bag, 
perfect for snacking anywhere, 
and no worries about melty sticky food!
Head over to your local Target
and pick up a tin of Lil' Beanies for your next diaper bag stock up
and see if you don't love them more than your little one. (wink)

This post is sponsored by Gerber, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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A Father's Story: It's All Worth It

As a special preface to Father's Day
and to introduce my husband a little more to any readers
I'm so thrilled to have been able to partner with Gerber
to have him share his own special story of fatherhood.

Here's what Pappa Bear (Lance) had to say:

I come from a big family
and being the youngest, 
it was always strange for me to think about taking care of someone else. 
The best analogy that I can conger
to explain my feelings on becoming a father
would be
sitting on a beach 
watching as a massive tidal wave
rises high in the sky 
and tilting your head back to look at it
thinking, "This is going to be a wild ride when it hits."

The day when Siri gave birth 
and I met my daughter was just that.
I recall hearing Svea's cries as they laid her on the scale
to measure and clean her.
I looked into her eyes 
and what I saw I will never forget. 
I saw eternity.
I knew that I had always been her father.
That was it. 
She was my purpose in life.

I spoke gently to her
and suddenly a calm feeling flooded through us both. 
All of the nights when I had played favorite songs to 
her in Siri's belly 
and read her stories were past, 
but now in this cold, bright room, 
she knew my voice 
and her discomfort went away. 
 I became her comforter. 
Someone who would 
rejoice in her life's triumphs 
and hold her when she felt pain. 
This role, 
aside from being a husband, 
would be my greatest 
and most rewarding calling in life. 

About a half hour later, 
Svea was in Siri's arms
when she suddenly coughed 
and stopped breathing. 
Her skin began to lose it's color
until she was a dark shade of purple. 
In that moment, I felt my greatest fears grip me
and all of those future hopes of life with her
slipping away.
I cried out in my heart
like a small child desperately calling for help from his Father, 
"Don't take her from me!"
As Siri tried to clear Svea's airway
by patting her back firmly, 
I ran into the hallway
screaming for help. 
I was fearful that no one 
could understand my jumbled, frantic words
and that their hesitation in processing what I was saying
would delay the help needed. 
Finally two nurses ran into the room
and helped Siri get Svea breathing again. 
There had been excess amniotic fluid 
and matter from the womb blocking her throat
and they cleaned her throat even more thoroughly now.

Having one of the most incredible moments of my life
followed so closely by one of the most heart-stoppingly terrifying
moments of my life
sent me into almost a state of shock.
I had been given the greatest gift
and thought it would be ripped away from me before I could even 
understand it. 
With the memory of this roller coaster 
echoing freshly in my mind, 
we cared for Svea over the next days until we were allowed to go home. 
Each night I looked forward to placing her in her small bed in between us 
and watching her sleep. 
Photo by Rennai Hoefer

On the third night home, I placed Svea on my chest to help her fall asleep.
I smiled at her pajamas that had hand covers to prevent her from scratching herself
and made it look like she was wearing tiny mittens. 
I found myself just sinking into those moments, watching her. 
I watched her little eyes flutter shut and suddenly 
the blissful realization struck me,

I knew in that moment what that scare in the hospital had taught me. 
This is all worth it. 
Every fearful or weary moment, 
every tender laugh,
every tickle, 
and every pain, 
and even the knowledge that you will have to watch your child suffer through heartbreak and struggles in life…
They are all worth it. 
Because I was not Lance anymore.
I was “Pappa.”
And every corner of my soul was filled with love for this tiny being. 
No words in heaven or earth begin to describe the ultimate joy 
and the sense of purpose that being her “Pappa” bring to me. 
Every moment when I leave in the morning for work
and I see Siri and Svea in bed 
and I lean over and kiss their foreheads.

Every day when I come home
and Svea yells, "Pappa!" as I walk through the door.

Each time she has fallen asleep curled up on my chest
from day one to now.
Each minute and each year...
I remember.

Do you have a moment that made you realize that it's all worth it?
Share with us in the comments! We would love to hear!

This post is sponsored by Gerber,
however, all content and opinions expressed here are our own.

All photography by Freckled Lemonade Photography (me)
except for the one photo that is specified so underneath. 
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