Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May, Mental Health Awareness Month

As a preface, this has been the most nervous I have been to share a post in a long time. I've written and rewritten the post in my head numerous times. I've thought about every word and hovered over the "Publish" button too many times. Here it is...

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Not as well known as February, Heart Disease Month, or October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, both of which I can recall learning about since elementary school.

In college, I worked alongside a professor on research analyzing the barriers to care for mental illness following active service for veterans. We dove deep into this research for a little over two years together and eventually, our work was published. I even conducted my own comparative study looking at college students and their perceived barriers to care for mental illness with stigma being the overwhelming barrier for both populations of veterans and college students. Not access. Not availability of treatment. The stigma, which we as a society have placed on seeking treatment for mental illness.

Almost three years ago, Summer of 2012, there was a traumatic event that occurred within my family.  While this is not my story to tell, it still deeply effected me. At the time, I was living in a somewhat toxic roommate environment and the combination of the two lead me to seek treatment for depression. I wasn't myself any longer and it was obvious to those who knew me well, though I masked my struggle on social media. My doctor prescribed me a prescription medication to alleviate the side effects, but I was too embarrassed to take it. Afraid that someone might see the pills and judge me. Possibly even label me.

As a result of this time, a series of other triggers were set off; my anxiety and OCD. Anxiety is hereditary and knowing the women in my family, it was inevitable that I would experience some form of it in my lifetime. I would get anxious in traffic, parking garages, coming home every night with my extensive list of preparations for the next day, interacting with others, going on trips, and so many other everyday scenarios that are normal to others. I was having multiple breakdowns (sobbing hysterically, shaking, shortness of breath) within a week before I finally decided to seek medical treatment. In my mind, it was just my perfectionist personality which had also yielded most of my accomplishments, so I was deeply terrified of medicating myself for the problem.

I started taking daily medication yet also working with a therapist as I didn't want to become a walking pill box at the age of 25. After multiple sessions and conversations, I was sent to a Psychiatrist for OCD. I was mortified and told very few people about this appointment. I sat in the small office with walls were covered in crooked picture frames and watched the birds in the pond out the window as I answered every question hoping to avoid the diagnosis. The OCD had become so prominent, it was controlling my life. I would have friends over mid week for pizza and wine, then would spend hours after they left cleaning my already meticulously tidy apartment. Each night, I would spend 45 minutes to an hour vacuuming all of my furniture to rid it of the dog hair, Febreezing every pillow and drape of my curtains, hand-washing then drying every dish I had used, and washing, drying, folding, and putting away my clothes from the day. If a splash of toothpaste landed on the mirror while brushing my teeth, I would have to clean the entire mirror. I was obsessed with this idea that my apartment had to look like it was ready for its magazine photo shoot at any given moment.

It was consuming. The best way to treat the OCD is through medication. While I hate that I have to take a daily prescription, I love that I am able to leave dishes in the sink for a few days (not in the ew kind of way, but in that you've only drank out of cups for the past few days and you're too exhausted to dedicate time to cleaning each cup) and I've scaled the laundry down to once a week. One time, I even left the dirty clothes on the bathroom floor. While parts of me still cringes at the thought, I feel liberated that these thoughts no longer consume me and control my daily life. I can go to sleep knowing that there are dishes are in the sink and laundry to be done. The pillows are disheveled on the sofa instead of perfectly posed for their imaginary photo shoot. And thats OK.

I write this not because I want accolades or praise for my own struggle with my mental health, but because I want others to know that it is OK to seek medical treatment for mental illnesses. I follow Yolanda Foster on Instagram where she courageously displays her battle with Lyme Disease and her hundreds of thousands of followers support her and uplift her during her struggle. I don't commonly see posts on mental illnesses, until its too late. With the constant accessibility to others' highlight reels through social media, we are increasingly putting more pressure on ourselves to project our own highlights and are ashamed of the not so glamorous #nofilter moments. Like when I didn't take the depression medication at the fear of what others may think of me if they knew, how many other diseases do we willingly decide not to follow through with the suggested treatment? I don't hear anyone saying I'm going to forego my diabetes medication in the hopes that it goes away on its own.

Its ironic how foreshadowing my research was of what would become of my young adult life, but I am thankful that through the combination of treatment and medications, I am able to speak candidly about my experiences. While still terrified of the vulnerability, I hope to have contributed to the awareness aspect of Mental Health Awareness Month in some capacity.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Home Again

I love being able to come home. As lovely as it would be to live here, in Florida, with my parents and close family, I enjoy being able to come home and cherish each moment spent with them. Growing up, I took for granted the luxury of seeing my family and closest friends each day and living in such a beautiful place. It truly is a resort here. (This weekend, I went stand up paddle boarding in my backyard and was joined by dolphins.) 

As I drove down a road to meet a friend and her family for dinner, one I hadn't driven down since high school, I was taken back to eight years ago when I last lived here. I flashed back to nights of driving around singing in my Volkswagen bug packed full with friends or going on a forty five minute trek for a One Hot Cookie treat. I slowed down my speed to obey the 35 mph speed limit and simply took it all in. Every tree along the two lane road seemed familiar and I was ten years younger. I passed by houses I recognized and newly built waterfront mansions that replaced the once modest homes who stood there. As much as time changes things and as much as I love all of the new conveniences in Jacksonville (hello Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton, and Pottery Barn that were not around when I was in high school) I love how a simple drive can make everything feel the same and take you back in time. 

It can be so easy when I'm here, as in most vacations, to get caught up in the sharing of my experience through social media (mainly SnapChat and Instagram.) Fortunately for this trip, I left my phone charger in Charlotte so my attachment to the phone was on an ambiguous schedule. I shared a few of my favorite moments below. 

Henry never swims, like ever. Usually, we throw a toy for Sam, he swims the entire length of the pool to retrieve the toy, and when he is just about a foot from the steps, Henry swims out, takes the toy, and proudly brings it to you. This weekend, he swam the full length of the pool to retrieve a toy. Twice. I was in shock. He then didn't move for a few hours that evening and I literally had to pick him up and force him to go outside to potty, but he did it. 

Sammy, the champion swimmer that he is, really enjoyed the new pool floats I requested. 

My first night home, we ordered catering from Mojos, my absolute favorite BBQ, and had enough left overs for days. The second night, when we made burgers, I heated up the left over Texas Toast and pulled pork to accompany my burger which I topped with Mojo's sweet sauce. (Fact: Freshman year of college, my parents brought me a pint of sweet sauce that I carried to the dining hall with me.)


I love this picture mainly because it is far from perfect and that is life. While Courtney and I have perfected our picture poses since elementary school when we pretended we were Mary Kate and Ashley, the babies haven't yet caught on. I love them nonetheless. On Monday night, I went to dinner with my friend who is now an incredible mother to the two sweetest babes. It truly is a wonderful thing to watch one of your friends grow into being mommy. I know babies are far in my future, but I hope to be as good as a mommy as my super-girl friend. 



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What to Wear to an Interview

In my job as a recruiter, I coach people each day on what to wear to interviews. Seeing that we are a few years out of college, most of my friends are starting to make that first career change, and have been asking a lot about what to wear to an interview. I'm going to tailor this post to the ladies because well, I'm a female myself and men, you have it easy. 

First, I am adamantly against the pant suit. I find it to be incredibly unflattering on women for many reasons. One, I strongly dislike pants in general. I have a single digit number of pants (running/yoga pants excluded) that consist of two dress capri style pants and a few pairs of jeans. Something about them, I find them highly uncomfortable and therefore limit their presence in my wardrobe. Two, when men purchase pant suits (who they originally designed them for) most of the time, they take the time to get them tailored to fit them specifically with a certain pair of shoes. From my observations, very few women do this and think the shoes are interchangeable. So they may wear a suit with flats one day giving that slightly baggy look and then the next day with high heels so that the pants are noticeably too far off of the ground. The sleeves aren't measured appropriately and therefore look odd. When it came time for me to purchase a suit in my life, I was thankful J.Crew had their dress collection where I picked out a matching blazer and had the two altered to fit my physique. 

Shoes. In my opinion, there is really only one type of shoe appropriate for an interview. Solid, closed toe, pumps. My version of pumps. Think, Duchess of Cambridge and less Granny. I've seen girls come in wearing flats, sandals, platforms, and in full transparency, I judge. In regards to pantyhose, unless you are interviewing at your Grandma's yarn shop, that advice is dated. 

Jewelry. Keep the gems to a minimum. While I'm sure your new hoop earrings are stunning, let's save them for the first week on the job (or never.) But seriously, studs for the ears and minimum jewelry elsewhere. You want the interviewer to focus on you and your talents, not your collection of charms on your arm clanking against the glass table. 

Color. While I fully support your style as an extension of yourself, maybe try to be a bit more neutral during the interview process. I've heard the feedback before "I don't like red and he had a on a red shirt." Childish, I know, and you likely wouldn't want to work for this individual anyways, but better to play it safe, especially if you are desperately in need of work. For instance, I strongly dislike the color yellow. (As in, I am getting shivers even thinking about it.) If someone did come in to interview in a vibrant yellow dress or top, I would have a hard time focusing on what they were saying. Find other ways to stand out. Also, know your audience. I once had a girl come in to interview with me who was a graduate of the University of South Carolina (GO TIGERS) and thought it would be great to wear her school colors to an interview with me, a Clemson alumna. 

Hair. I always recommend having the hair manageable. For me, I fidget with my hair out of nervousness, so when I was interviewing, I always made sure to wear my hair pulled back to avoid the temptation. 

Make-Up. Unless you are interviewing for a make up artist, save the display of your artistry for another time. Keep the make-up minimal and neutral. I once met a candidate for lunch who had decided on bright purple nail polish. All I could think about was how her bright purple nail polish coordinated ever so nicely with her sparkly, purple eyeshadow. 

You may think I am being obnoxious but interviews are intimidating enough. I once received feedback, great candidate for this potential $250,000 opportunity, however, it looked like at one point in his life, he may have had ears pierced and that was simply too hard for them to overcome despite his tenure in the industry. I posted a few options below that I selected from my closet. If you need help, let me know. I love playing dress up with a purpose! 

Solid blue dress with white blazer. Simple necklace to be paired with nude pumps and stud earrings. 

I wore a dress similar to this for my TFA interview. Polished enough that you don't necessarily need the added blazer. 

Difficult to see but simple black dress with navy blazer. Pair with navy or black pumps and you are solid gold. 

Should you decide to take a walk on the color side, this solid purple is pretty non-adventurious and not too offensive. Pair with a pencil skirt or dare I say pants. (Only ones that have been tailored to fit you, of course!)

For something a little more informal, I love this look. The stripes add a little bit of character but are still pretty safe in terms of incorporating pattern into an interview (if you must.) 



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekend Recap

Once again, the weekend went by way too quickly. Thought I would do a quick share of my weekend here.

On Friday, Emily and I went to Unwined at the Whitewater Center. For the first hour, we went on a paddle boarding adventure. Adventure, yes. I've paddle boarded before and thought I would do just fine, however at one point, during the trail, I glided over a root that gave me a bit of uneasiness and I tumbled over quite quickly. As it was two feet of water, I tried to stand up but it was that murkish muddy water that acted like quicksand and while I was trying to stand, I kept sinking deeper and deeper into the mud. Thank goodness for my life vest because I then proceeded to float and flair about and until the guide brought my board over to me and I laid on top shaking waiting for him to bring me my paddle. Fortunately, the hour of paddle boarding was followed by a dinner and wine tasting. (No fear, I brought a change of clothes.) We had six wine samples so Em and I decided on three samples and then I glass of the cab. I highly recommend this evening.

I can't believe my little babies are old enough to go to Prom. About a month ago, I asked Brandy, who I've been buying make up from for years, if she was free to do their make up. She eagerly signed up and was so much fun the day of. I loved playing dress up with the girls and watching them get ready for prom, I even went to the park for pictures. I may have turned into a bit of a dance mom. By this, I mean I asked other families to move so that they were not in the background of our pictures, squealed about elegant collarbones and proper posture, and made sure every curl laid perfectly and all of the lip gloss stayed sparkly.

J.Crew Sale
I'm not sure if this was online or just in stores but I stumbled into J.Crew this weekend and it was an extra 50% off of sale items. I'm talking silk camis for $15 and sweaters for $20. I was spazzing. While I wanted to buy the entire store, I opted for a light weight navy trench for $70! Perfect for fall and quite a few pair of tights (my favorites) for $5.

Modern Day Yuppie
Hens woke up extra early this morning and in my internet skimming, I stumbled across this New York Times article. I then fell back asleep and dreamed I lived in Whole Foods.

First Gen Students
I also read an article about First Generation students and their acclimation to college. The article discussed how it effected not only their community identity but their personal identity as well and the shift in both identities. I'm sure more on that in a latter post, but my wheels are turning.

Catch Up
On Sunday, I spent almost three hours on the phone catching up with some of my closest friends. I miss my closest friends and being able to see them everyday and week day connections can sometimes be difficult so I LOVE a good weekend of time spent catching up with my friends.

Four days until the next weekend. Henry and I are off to Florida for almost a week as of Thursday and we cannot wait!



Friday, May 15, 2015

Decision Points

My mom always tells me "make wise choices." It's sort of been her sign off whenever we part and I definitely incorporated the phrase into my own language. When students would leave my classroom, I'd say, "make wise choices" when I am leaving work for the weekend, I tell my colleagues "make wise choices." Maybe its motherly of me, but it really is because I deeply care (which I am horrible at expressing) and I want my friends, families, students, etc. to make the best decisions.

For the past two years, I've been part of that decision process for students and candidates. I take the idea of relocating too lightly because I offer it so frequently that I don't think sometimes I digest just how big of a decision people are making. I work with candidates through the entire process from initial to thought to "yes, I'm making the career change," or "no, I think I am perfectly fine where I am despite having spent the last two months flying all over the country to interview." I follow the process as candidates are initially energetic and enthusiastic and then they possibly become timid and afraid of the change. The challenge. The uncertainty of the unknown is intimidating. Stepping outside your comfort zone is intimidating. It's interesting to see people's approach. Are they autonomous and confident or are they the type that constantly talk to their families about "gut" feelings and just being unsure? Do they make the decision and tell you after or want you as a thought partner throughout the process?

As of the past few months, I've been working with students as they make similar, life-changing decisions. Where to attend college. Do they take the financial burden of a private school for the opportunity of smaller class sizes and individualized attention. Do they maybe go somewhere less academically challenging at the fear of being unprepared for success at that school? Do they decide based on social aspects such as proximity to home and diversity of the student body? Are they confident in their decision from the beginning or are they completely unsure?

There are so many intricate pieces to observe and analyze that I could go on forever on decision making. Recently, I've had the opportunity to make some life-changing decisions for myself. (More on that during a later post.) As I made these decisions, I realized a slight trend that I tend to make in my decision making. I love a challenge. I am bored with complacency and love the feeling of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone (as much of a routined, homebody that I am.) I like the feeling in my stomach that terrifies me, that makes nervous, yet also liberates me all at the same time.

I think back to high school when I traveled to Fiji by myself for a service project. As much excitement as I showed externally, I was terrified. So terrified, that I called my Dad from the LAX airport while having a mental breakdown. Nothing says maturity like sobbing in an airport on the phone with your Dad. I think about deciding to go to Clemson and how terribly bad I wanted to come home that first semester. I missed the comforts of my family, my friends, where I grew up, yet, I challenged myself to say and step beyond my securities to be see what could happen and I ended up loving my time there. I think about moving to Charlotte and becoming a teacher, adopting Henry, buying my first car, moving into an apartment on my own, traveling to Africa, and all of these other times that I did made a decision that intimidated me to my very core.

It's not that I lacked the confidence (sometimes, I think I'm up there with Kayne on the confidence scale) it's that I love the familiarity of what I know and the comfort of my routines. I also realize that most of my recent decisions have been high up on the hierarchy of first world problems. Not necessarily determining where my next meal is coming from but decisions nonetheless. As much as my decisions intimate me and cause uneasiness, I am equally as overwhelmed with excitement as to what the future may hold and the possibilities being unleashed.

Make wise choices!



Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Son

At the start of 2011, having recently graduated from college, I moved to a foster care home on a Native American reservation to serve as a missionary in a newly created home. It's one of the few things I've felt a strong calling to do. Since I had already graduated from Clemson, yet had six months before having to start Teach For America, my parents suggested that I use this time to go on a trip anywhere I wanted in the world to fulfill my strong desire to travel and serve children. After much thought on Thailand, Africa (I finally made it earlier this year), returning to Fiji, Central America even, the one place that hung heaviest on my heart was Lame Deer, Montana. 

So, in early January 2011, I packed two large suitcases and flew from Jacksonville, to Charlotte, to Denver, to Billings, and then drove the two hours to Lame Deer. At the time of my arrival, the house had two older, teenaged boys, and had been that way for a few weeks. Within days, we received a call that we needed to take in three children, an eighteen month old little girl, and two little boys who were four and five. This is what I came here to do and I could not wait for their arrival. The baby girl came in looking like an eskimo she was so tightly bundled in her jumpsuit and the five year old boy spoke so softly, I could barely hear a thing he said. 

The four year old, walked in, rat-tail and all, and as the boys were out helping get their belongings from the car, he used this opportunity to direct me to show him to his new room. Always one to fall for a strong personality, I took his hand and showed him around our small,yellow house that would eventually be home to 11 boys and 2 girls with one bathroom. 

From the begging, he was difficult. One night, he loved spaghetti. The next night, he strongly disliked spaghetti and would sob as loud as a siren at the thought of eating it. Prior to our home, he was the primary caretaker of his little sister and had a difficult time not being responsible for her daily responsibilities. He had a very difficult time following directions and his favorite response to any correction was (through a sea of sobs) "I just want to listen." Like me, he didn't share too well and he had a thing for being the center of attention. He clashed a bit with the boys in the house the same way that I struggled with little girl. 

One day, when it was above zero degrees outside, me and one of the other boys ventured to the park across the street with the two youngest boys. Little boy and I were up on the jungle gym running from the older boy who was playing crocodile below. We were running away trying to save ourselves, when he ran towards me, wrapped himself around me, and said "Mom, save me from the crocodile!" 

I froze. At this point, I had Henry, yet I still did not really refer to myself as his Mom. I'm 22, I wasn't anyones Mom. I looked at the precious boy I was holding in my arms and said "what did you call me?" and he responded "well, you are my mom aren't you?" I squeezed him so incredibly tight and never wanted to let go. 

For the remainder of my time there, I let it happen. I was Mom. When he came home from school everyday, he walked in the house yelling "Mom!!" and I was usually by the door waiting just as eagerly to see him. He instructed me to call him "son" and so, I did. I was Mom in the grocery store. I was Mom when he splashed too much in the bathtub. I was Mom when he wanted to build castles with his Leggos. I was Mom when he knocked the Leggo castle down. I was Mom when he was scared in the middle of the night and had a bad dream and would run to my room yelling Mom where I would quickly scoop him up saying, "please do not wake up your sister" who I shared a room with. Every night when he got out of the shower, he would ask me to smell his hair, smell his face, smell his belly, and then excitedly "SMELL MY FEET" knowing how much I disliked feet yet every night, I would kiss those precious little feet and tell him they were the most wonderful smelling feet in all the world. 

Together, I taught him to swim, we learned that a hotel is not one giant house and that we shared the space with other guests, that when we went places with parking lots we had to hold hands at all times, and I fell madly in love with that sweet little boy. On my last night in Montana, I laid in his bottom bunk bed with him and his Spongebob pillow and blanket and his Teddy Bear, as we said our prayers. Every night, he would ask me to rub his belly until he fell asleep. Usually, I set a time limit but for that night, I rubbed his belly until we both fell asleep. 

Leaving him was one of the hardest, most emotionally challenging things, I've ever done. His birthday is still the password on my phone and I think of him daily. In my perfect world, I would have brought him home with me, and would have lived together, mom and son, happily ever after. But God knew this was going to happen and that I had too much ahead of me that I needed to do off of the reservation. So, a year and a half later, he sent a Mom to him. 

I know he is well and pray he always will be. In my heart, he was and is my first son. On Mother's Day, I think of my first Mother's Day card I ever received from my sweet boy. It was on pink construction paper and I am pretty sure he was trying to draw me flowers. While I am no longer his Mom, I find myself thinking more of my sweet little boy every Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers, in every traditional and nontraditional form, who may be reading this. Thank you for all that you do. 



Tuesday, May 5, 2015


For the first time in a while, it's been more than a week since I've done a post. The past week was overwhelming and I definitely over extended myself in a few places but the good news is, it's done, and now I am in bed by 8:00 on a Monday night! I thought I would share a few things I've been thinking about this past week before returning to my regularly scheduled blog posting.

College Enrollment
May 1st was the official deadline for enrollment into accepted colleges. Despite the eighteen months of planning, there was so much that happened in the past week. All of my girls had been accepted into one of their top three schools (YAY!) but I started doubting my work as I felt like I had lead them down a potentially dangerous path of student loans that they don't qualify for and student loan debt that could costs more than a house so that when they do graduate from college in four years (because, they WILL beat the statistics) they can't afford to live on their own or buy a car or pay for emergency health trips or splurge on Tory Burch shoes they've always wanted because all of their paycheck is going to student loans for 20 years. This may all be slightly exaggerated, but I was a basket case. The good news is, I think we have a plan for each of them, and my commitment doesn't stop when they graduate high school, so I will continue to work with them and ensure their success.

I'm not one to usually share my thoughts and opinions but I had a really hard time with this one. I saw the numerous peaceful protestors for days with minimal coverage and then non-stop coverage when a small group turned violent. I would scroll through social media and read the mixed emotions of comments from support to disgust. For too long, I took for granted race relations in America and made the assumption that we were all always treated equal because, it was all I had ever known. I really enjoyed this article and encourage others to simply take the time to read and listen to the pleas before making judgement and assumptions.

Giving Up $95,000 Job to Move to an Island
I read this article over the weekend and have been thinking so much about it. I've seen my peers get caught up in the hustle of accomplishing life, that they aren't really living it. Now, I would never do well with a chicken in my bathroom and I am partially allergic to the sun, so I don't expect myself to quit my job and move to a tropical island but it is something to chew on. I spend a lot of time on the phone with candidates during the day and part of my process is to ask why they are considering new opportunities. Most of the responses revolve around unhappiness (want a promotion, long commute, lack of leadership, etc..) What if we all did things that made us truly happy? I am too much of an introvert to scoop ice cream and socialize all day, but if that is what inspires you, why not? Which leads me too...

I've been thinking about motivation a lot recently, mostly related to the students. I've been reading how students who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to persist in college as opposed to those who are motivated by external rewards which is ironic because a lot of the time we encourage success with rewards (name on the board, sticker, special lunches, dress down days, etc..) That's a completely different post entirely but it has me thinking about my own  motivation. I know a did a post last summer, where I shared that I was motivated by words of affirmation but I think that's just part of it. I think there's an intricate balance of external and internal motivation and because I have an obsession with being self aware, I am in desperate search of figuring out what that balance is for me.

I left Thursday night for Providence and had the best weekend with Sam. Aside from obsessively waiting for a peak at the princess, I didn't worry too much about capturing every moment in a picture. For once, I tried to be more present. I did pick out a few potential mansions I would be interested in calling my residence in Newport if someone wanted to purchase for me. I posted a few snaps on Instagram so I guess you'll just have to venture there.

HRH, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

Last, but certainly not least, I just had to make sure you read till the end, we have a new princess! I really don't care about any celebrity, except the Duchess of Cambridge and Will and George (and now Charlotte) but they are more than celebrities, they are royals. I just knew the baby was going to be a girl. I had analyzed all of these photos from Kate's pregnancy with George to her second pregnancy and her face was significantly rounder so I just knew, it had to be a girl. If I was the betting kind, I would have placed a bet on it.  On Saturday, I don't think I've ever been so happy to awake before 8:00 AM on a weekend in my life! I knew Kate was going to leave that day. She does't love all of the hype of the media and she's just the type to leave the hospital looking gorgeous less than twelve hours after giving birth. Will's arrival with George was simply precious and I may have teared up a tiny bit. I think I spent the rest of the way waiting and waiting until they left so I could see the first glimpse of the little angel. After a few squeals on the Cliff Walk in Newport around 1:30 PM when I first saw laid eyes on that sweet face, I took my guess at her name, Charlotte Elizabeth Frances and was happy that I was only one name off. I went with Diana's middle name, Frances, as a personal favorite but after sharing realized I was in the minority with my fondness for the name Frances for a girl. (Dear feature children, I'm sorry.) I'm sure they will be off to their country home soon, but I simply cannot contain my excitement as I eagerly wait for the first family photo!