Dear Mama

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

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So for those of you who don’t know, today is my Mama’s birthday.  In honor of such a special occasion, I’m going to get sappy for a moment.

When I was born, my mom and biological father were still married and happy as clams.  I’ve heard the sweet stories about how he would get her chicken wings for dinner and rub her belly down with cocoa butter each night before bed.  The two of them were so excited for the chance to become parents, and couldn’t wait for my arrival.

Sadly, however, things changed after I was born.  My father was constantly dealing with his own internal demons and addictions that pulled him away from our happy little family of three.  Within a few short months of my birth, it was clear that it would just be my mom and I.  Thankfully, however, the two of us had such a strong support system within our family, and when I was a little less than two, my wonderful step dad entered our life and helped to complete our family once again.

I truly believe that the struggles we went through with my dad, helped to create the most incredible bond between my mom and I.  We were the constant in each others lives from day one.  She has told me before that she often felt as though she had to try harder, or do more because my bio-dad wasn’t around.  Let me say this now, Mama…

You never had to do anything but be yourself.  You are the most beautiful person, and my very best friend.  I cling to our relationship and am forever grateful for the closeness we’ve shared.  Even when I was an annoying teenager who knew more and better, and you probably would have liked to kill me, I still respected and loved you so much it hurt.  I hear some teens scream to their parents how much they hate them when they’re fighting.  Sometimes I couldn’t hardly stand you (wink, wink!) but I remember thinking to myself that I could never use the word hate.  No matter how mad I got, I still recognized how special you were to me.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, I can only hope that she loves me even half as much as I love you. You’ve given me the very best example of the type of mother I long to be.  I yearn for the chance to build the same type of relationship with Hadley that you and I share with each other.  If I succeed, I will truly be the luckiest woman in the world.

So to you, my extraordinary mother, I raise my metaphorical glass of champagne and offer you a wish for the happiest birthday imaginable.  The day of your birth is truly a cause for celebration!  I love you to the moon and back.

Forever and Always,

Your Best Friend

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

So last weekend, this happened…

psl

Ahhh!  The first pumpkin spice latte of the year is always a monumental moment in my life.  It means that summer’s scorching hot days are coming to a close (although it will still be hot as heck!), and that it’s time for me to bust out my multitude of Fall decorations.  So what if there’s no leaves changing color or temperatures that provide brisk autumn days…Florida Fall still counts!

We’ll rock our boots and sweaters, even if they’re accompanied by a sheen of sweat.  We’ll still accessorize with cute scarves and hats.  Slow cookers fill with soups and stews, while our ovens are blessed with casseroles and pie.

Fall is Hocus Pocus, Bath and Body Works candles and pumpkin scented soap.  Just the idea of September, October and November gives me the warm and fuzzies.  This is the time that I start to prepare my recipes for Thanksgiving Day, and plot my plan of attack for Black Friday night.

No doubt about it, this if my favorite time of year.  So grab your loved ones and hit up the first pumpkin festival you can find.  Then go home and eat an abundance of turkey…the glorious Fall season is finally here!

The Difference a Year Can Make

So this past Friday night, my whole family gathered together to help celebrate my Papa’s birthday.  As we sat around, chowing down on pizza and wings, I realized that it had been exactly a year since Ryan and I told my family we were expecting.  What an incredible moment that was!  I was very stealthy, you see.  I disguised the big news as a photo-op!  I told everyone that I wanted to take a family photo and announced that after the count of three they should all say, “Kristen’s pregnant!”  It took a moment for the words to register, but I’ll never forget the excitement I felt once they understood just what I was telling them!

Right when I made the announcement!
Right when I made the announcement!
When they realized what I'd said!
When they realized what I’d said!

This September didn’t just mark the 1-year anniversary of us announcing to my family, though.  We also decided to let Ryan’s family in on our little secret this time last year.  Color us shocked when we realized we were actually the ones in for a surprise!

Each September, the whole Bergeron clan gets together to celebrate all the different birthdays for that month (there’s a lot of them!)  One of the birthdays happens to be Ryan’s dad’s.  We went out and purchased a grandparent’s day card and told Ryan’s mom and dad that it was more of a gift for the two of them and that they should open it together.  When they opened that card and realized we were expecting, the whole family blew up with excitement.  There was so much screaming and laughter it was contagious, until I noticed Ryan’s sister and her husband whispering quietly off to the side.

“Oh no,” I remember thinking.  Were they disappointed?  I knew they’d been trying, and I was so afraid they were upset by our announcement.  I tried to brush my fears away but couldn’t help but feel nervous.

After the excitement calmed down a little, Renee said that they had a gift, too.  When I realized they were handing Ryan and I a bag, along with the other couples in the room, I became suspicious.  Why, you ask?  Because neither Ryan or I have September birthdays!  Before Ryan could even open the bag up, I remember saying, “Oh my gosh!”  I just knew that she was pregnant, too!  Sure enough, we pulled out the most adorable card that said “Our family is growing by two feet!”

At that moment, I’m pretty sure the Bergeron’s may have broken the sound barrier!  We were laughing, shouting and crying like crazy.  Everyone kept looking at Renee and I asking if we’d known…if we’d planned it that way!?! The correct answer is, NO!  We were completely shocked by it all!

cousins

I’ve got to admit…I was a little nervous when I first found out we’d be pregnant together.  Would everyone compare us and our choices?  Would we all compare the babies?  In the end, there was nothing to be scared of. I look back and realize that the timing of everything was the most extraordinary blessing.  It was so comforting to know that I was going through pregnancy with somebody else.  We could bounce ideas and questions back and forth, and were often able to comfort one another through the toughest moments (like when both babies decided to be super overdue…stubborn little things!) And now that the babies are finally here, we have the most amazing time watching them grow together.  These sweet little cousins make our lives so much richer and fun!  I’ll leave you with some shots of these besties looking all cute and stuff!

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Splish Splash!

Over Labor Day weekend, our little family of three took a short trip to Orlando.  We had nothing in particular planned, but wanted to spend some good quality time together without the worries of doing dishes or mowing the lawn.  The highlight of our trip…putting our sweet Haddie girl in the pool for the first time!  She absolutely loved it!  We weren’t to sure how she’d handle it, but were pleasantly surprised.  About a month ago, I tried to dip her feet into a different pool and she wasn’t too thrilled.  As soon as her cute, little toes hit the water she screamed out in disgust!  This time though, she started kicking like crazy as soon as we got her into her floaty!  She was looking around, completely mesmerized by this brand new experience.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she was a little disappointed when it was time to take her out!  No doubt about it, this girl is a true blue Florida water baby! Check out a few of the pics that I snapped!

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Color Me Shocked…My Jojo Moyes Experience

When it comes to books, I pride myself on the ability to figure them out before I even finish page one.  For that matter, I’ve usually determined what will happen before the books even open. Once in a blue moon, however, I’m wrong (don’t tell my husband!)

Every now and then, I’ll come across a story that’s completely off the cuff.  A novel that goes against the rules of storytelling and gives us something incredibly unique.  Most of the time, these books offer the reader a single moment that will cause their breath to catch in their throats.  The kind of moment that makes you wonder why you’re reading the book at all, and whether throwing the blasphemous thing across the room is the better option.  Except that you can’t, and you realize that this element of surprise kind of makes you love the book even more.

This being said, I present you with my top three “caught off guard” classics:

  1. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn: If you’ve been living under a rock, let me tell you this; when “the moment” happens, you will want to cry, scream and bitch someone out all at once!
  2. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green: Oh John Green, you terrible, wonderful man.  You ruined my life and gave me one of the most beautiful reading experiences all at once. One day in the near future, I fully intend to dedicate an entire post to nothing but singing your praises!

And finally, number 3. The most recent addition to my list:

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Me-Before-You-book-cover-Jan-12-p122

Within the first few pages of this book, I was completely infatuated.  There was a lightness to Moyes’ writing that pulled at my heart strings.  She has a way of getting to you that you never dreamed possible.

This is the story of Lou Clark, a young girl who’s down on her luck after the diner she’s worked at for years closes down.  With grim employment options, she finds herself working as a caretaker for the wealthy Will Traynor, a quadriplegic who spends his days dwelling on the past.  When Lou first arrives to work for him, it’s truly rough waters.  She spends her days lurking around his home, avoiding him at much as possible.  Will, likewise, spends his days ruefully ignoring her.

In time, though, they develop an unexpected closeness that surprises them both.  Here’s where I’d assumed I’d “figured it out.”  An unconventional love story where both parties help the other to remember the joy and beauty in life, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Yeah, not so much.

Now don’t get me wrong.  They both do help one another to reclaim happiness in their lives, but the journey itself is quite shocking.  There comes a moment in the book where you realize what an idiot you’ve been.  You begin to understand that this is not a puppies and rainbows kind of story.  Believe me when I say that I spent the last 100 pages or so with tears streaming down my face.

If you choose to pick up this book, be prepared for that moment.  I won’t sugar coat anything, it will shatter your heart.  But if you give this book a chance, you’ll see just how moving it really is.  This is the first thing I’ve read in a very long time that pushed me to take a look at myself and evaluate each part of my own beautiful life.  In my opinion, Me Before You isn’t just a book, it’s truly an experience.

IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 3

After a couple of weeks on birth control to regulate my hormones, we were ready to start the shots (picture the word shots being said in a super scary, dramatic tone of voice and you’ll have a better understanding for how I felt about them!)  I shouldn’t be so melodramatic, though, they honestly weren’t that bad. Each evening, Ryan and I would sit down at our kitchen table with our vials of medicine, needles, and alcohol swabs.  I would then proceed to give myself three shots in the stomach.  It was like ripping off a band-aid; just do it quick and try not to think too hard.  These shots gave my ovaries the boost they needed to produce multiple follicles, which meant the potential for more eggs to work with.

Because of my PCOS, I was at risk for something called hyper stimulation.  To help prevent this from happening, Ryan and I made daily treks to our doctors office for about two weeks.  We’d wake up early, drive an hour for our 7am appointment, and they would test my blood and perform ultrasounds to make sure things were progressing on schedule and not too quickly, or over-abundantly.  Thankfully, I remained healthy the whole way through my stim cycle.  Healthy, but rather miserable. Continue reading “IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 3”

That one I time I realized I might be a stalker…

So I’m a little bit fanatic when it comes to books.  Sometimes I wish it was possible to literally fall into their pages for a nice long snuggle…seems like the coziest idea ever, in my opinion!  I submerge myself in their words, and when I find a book that I fall completely in love with, it becomes a lifelong friend.  The book will turn into a small part of me, and I will spend obscene amounts of time reflecting on all of the good times we’ve had.

Then, as I develop this strong attachment to the books themselves, I find myself willing to dedicate my life to the authors who’ve written them.  Write a book that really pulls at my heartstrings and I will become your devoted enthusiast. Such was the case when I finished reading Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews.  At the close of the book, I was ready and willing to crawl into the world that MKA created.  And this is how I became a stalker.

Once I’d fallen in love with her fun work, I took the next logical step…I followed her on Facebook!  Imagine my surprise and delight when one fateful day I discovered she was researching her next novel in my own hometown.  I counted my lucky stars and decided it was completely appropriate to send her a message that went something like this…

“Hi there!  I love your work and can’t help but notice that you’re currently in my hometown.  I’d love the opportunity to meet you in person!”

I waited patiently for an invitation to join her at the beach house she was renting where we’d drink wine and giggle over the silly adventures of the characters in her books.  We’d become besties and her next book would be dedicated to the wine-o from Florida!  Instead, however, I got a very gracious thank you and an invite to the book signing she was holding the next day.  Not exactly a day at the beach, but I’d take it!  So then this happened…

Left - My friend Katie (and fellow stalker) Center - MKA Right - Yours truly
Left – My friend Katie (and fellow stalker)
Center – MKA
Right – Yours truly

She was so wonderful, not to mention hilarious, in real life that on a recent trip to Savannah, I once again took to her Facebook page.  I knew she owned a vacation rental on Tybee Island and spent lots of her time there (Can you say stalker?)  Much to my delight, there was going to be another signing during our vacation.  I dragged my husband over there with me and had her sign the very book she’d been researching at our first meeting, Ladies Night.

ladies-night-out

Ladies Night tells the tale of a group of women (and one man) who have been wronged by their spouses and are each in the middle of nasty divorces.  They are forced to attend weekly marriage counseling sessions and form fast friendships.  When their counselor starts acting a little out of her head, things start getting interesting and the plot takes off.  The book is set in my hometown area, so for any of my fellow locals, you’ll notice lots of familiar sites and areas, including the famous Rod and Reel Pier.

While I have to admit that this book might not be one of my favorites by MKA, that’s not to say you shouldn’t read it.  It’s a fast, fun read that has all the necessary components.  Things like romance, suspense, laughter, and women driving their ex-husbands Audi into a pool! This book is the perfect summer companion, and I highly recommend it to you all!

IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 2

Several months before Ryan and I began to seriously consider having a baby, my regular gynecologist sent me for an ultrasound to determine the cause of my long standing irregular periods.  A few days after the test, I received a phone call from a rather callous nurse.  She informed me that I had something called PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and that because of this, I stood very little chance of ever getting pregnant.  She proceeded to tell me that even if I did conceive, the likelihood of my being able to carry a baby to full term was, more or less, non-existent.

Continue reading “IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 2”

IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 1

So let me just say that I have no intention of partaking in a constant stream of sappy, emotional journaling via this blog.  That being said, however, I’m about to get a little sappy and emotional.

I met my husband back in 2006 when I was fresh out of high school.  A mutual friend was convinced that we were a match made in Heaven, but I wasn’t so sure.  At that point, I was getting ready to move away for school and was interested in living the single life for a while.  I repeatedly told this particular friend that I was more than willing to meet this supposed “Mr. Perfect,” but that she shouldn’t get her hopes up.  I had no intention of getting involved.  Color me surprised when I fell head over heels in love.

Ryan, the husband, is truly the ying to my yang.  I can undoubtedly say that he is my best friend and that I’m the best version of myself with him, and because of him.

In July of 2008, Ryan was over in Brazil performing in a professional water ski show.  One day, during a run in the show, several mishaps occurred which led to him being whipped into a sea wall.  This accident left him with a T-12 complete spinal cord injury, and he is paralyzed from the waist down. Continue reading “IVF (aka Our Year of Anxiety and Anticipation) – Part 1”

A Simple Salutation

Verve

[ Vurv]

Noun

  1. enthusiasm or vigor, as in literary or artistic work;spirit:
  2. vivaciousness; liveliness; animation:

When I made the decision to start this blog, I found myself wondering what it should be about. After all, I am, by no means, an expert on anything.  Well unless being obsessive is something that a person can be an expert in!

And that’s what I am…obsessive.  I have the capability to obsess over just about anything (“just about” being the pertinent phrase!)  Whether it’s my child, a great book, finding the perfect glass of wine – sometimes I feel like I could get excited about a million different things before noon!  Hence the name of this blog…”The Natural Verve.”  I have a pure, simplistic enthusiasm for so many elements in my life.

So I ask…why pick one?  Why not let you all in and share the whole lot of my many infatuations?  And that’s what I intend to do.  If you came to this blog looking for great recipes, I’m pretty sure you’ll find them in time.  Looking for a good book?  Something tells me you’ll eventually find a review or two (who am I kidding, probably a whole library’s worth!)  Or maybe you found this blog and thought: “Hey, maybe that writer has a super cute kid?”  The answer is yes, I most definitely do, and I will certainly be bragging about her adorable-ness!

At “The Natural Verve,” I won’t just offer you one choice from the color wheel.  I plan on giving you the whole damn rainbow!  So join me on this quest for variety.  Read along as I make my way through my a world of likes, dislikes and new experiences!  Welcome, and happy reading!