Half Written and Never Posted: May 2012

There is a video that lives on the old laptop inside the cabinet in our living room that I’ve been thinking about lately. I made it when Arlo was three months old. It was late July and we were in the thick of bad news on our son. The latest was that he had been diagnosed with Ocular albinism*. I’d spent hours one night digging through page after page on the internet reading about what this meant for him. I was feeling vulnerable and completely unprepared and since it was 3am, and everyone else was asleep, I turned on the camera on my laptop and started to talk. and cry really hard. and lay out my fears in the quiet of my dark living room.

And then I closed my laptop and never watched it again. I just needed to let it live somewhere, admit it existed and then put it to rest. The next day, I wrote this post, sharing Arlo’s condition on my blog. I’ve always struggled with how to go about sharing Arlo’s health news here. Sometimes it felt appropriate to share it openly because Dear Baby is a reflection on the daily happenings in our life and it felt odd to be dealing with it in our lives and not acknowledging it in this space - but other things I’ve held on to for months at a time before mentioning them in a post.

With the passing of his first birthday, I am very much ready for a new era of health and wellness for my son. It is what I hope for more than anything else in the world. Health and happiness for my family. Take the rest, leave me that.

We met with Arlo’s pediatrician today for his one year check up and the first thing I said to her was, “Well, you promised me I’d survive his first year. And here we are!”  My mind wandered to that late night video as she went down the checklist, smiling and nodding as we shared all the things our boy has accomplished. I thought back to that version of myself on that video, a woman feeling scared and alone with her son’s new diagnosis. I wish I could comfort her. I wish she could have been in the room today as her tiny son was transformed into a strong growing boy who flipped the light switch off and on & waved to cars that passed by the windows in our exam room. 

*Arlo’s Ocular Albinism diagnosis was later changed to Oculocutaneous Albinism Type II after genetic testing. 

Half Written and Never Posted: Spring 2013

Just a little story about how the intersection career and motherhood saved the butts of the folks over at Pixar. 

Tags: working mom

Half Written and Never Posted: December 2012

I’m not interested in being an expert on anything, except my own family. When I started writing about my experiences on motherhood, I will admit that early on, I grew a little overconfident or a lot overconfident (depending on who you ask) about my abilities.

I was ready to dole out advice and recommendations like I’d been doing this for years, when really, truly, I only knew the ins and outs of one particular little girl who happened to be early to everything and easy about all the rest.

Arlo was a much needed reality check. Nothing that worked before him worked on him. I was starting at zero and it made me realize that everything is relative and nothing is guaranteed. There are no secret formulas or magic steps when it comes to raising children. What one mother swears by another deems useless. There is nothing that is best for all babies and all that truly matters is what’s best for my babies. There isn’t a book or a blog or how-to video out there that has those answers.

These days, I will admit I know nothing. But even within that statement I am confident in my abilities to find what will work for my children. I know nothing, but I trust the hell out of my own intuition. 

I’ve learned the right amount of shushes and the perfect kind of rock to get my babies to sleep and the perfect ratio of broccoli to mac n cheese to ensure their plates are clean. I’m a master in the art of Everly and Arlo (but them alone).

I just want to make a commitment here to you all, on this little blog of minethat I will always share ideas and things that have been helpful or beneficial in the process of raising up these babies with the caveat that I know nothing (nothing at all) about how any of this might work, or be totally off basis when it comes to your family. It sounds like a disclaimer, but it’s the cold hard truth.

Most importantly, I respect and recognize and marvel at you, my fellow mamas who are experts in your own right about your own sweet babesand what makes their worlds go round. There isn’t another woman on this earth that knows what works for them better than you.And isn’t that something worthy of great pride? (Greater than gold medals or emmys or whatever statue they are handing out these days.)

Because this whole experience of parenting… it’s about making mistakes and holding our ground and learning our way. I’ll keep sharing my story and I hope you’ll all be here to help me keep it real. And remind me, should I ever get too full of myself again, that I’m not an expert on anyone else but these two little people who I brought into the world.

And ain’t that enough?

Half Written and Never Posted: Spring 2013

A few months back, on her own, Everly started to tell her brother and random friends and family, “Arlo is SO handsome!”  It always made me giggle as I assumed she was just repeating what she had heard me say to him before.

Two days ago, we were sitting in the frozen yogurt place enjoying our treats and Everly was fixated on a young family outside. Among them was a boy, probably five or six, with shaggy blonde hair. After watching them through the glass for a few minutes Everly turned to Brent and I and said, “That boy out there is SO handsome!”

Brent and I immediately turned and looked at each other and laughed a little nervously.  I mean she is THREE. Three years old and already announcing that a boy outside is handsome.

I don’t know what to make of it. Of course, it was completely innocent - just her observation. But it still felt odd to me to hear her make such a declaration out of the blue about someone she didn’t know.

She has years ahead of her until boys turn into icky cootie carriers and then beyond that into love interests, but it was an interesting emotional experience for me.  To think - aww, that’s adorable and then wait, you are way too young to even be thinking about the physical appearance of another person.  I think I’m probably giving it far more weight than it even deserves in writing it here.

A few years ago, I found some of my old diaries from elementary school - around fifth grade,  I guess… And reading through them, I felt like I was way too young to even be talking about boys and crushes and “going out” and yet - there I was doing it.

Looking back on my youth, I’ve come to feel like perhaps I missed out on some real opportunities to be adventurous and develop a personal identity as a young girl because I was so wrapped up in getting a boyfriend and wondering if they liked me or not. It was the focus or my existence for most of middle school and high school.

As an adult, I wish I could have changed that experience. I wish I could have built a core of self worth around my talents and my best friends and saved the boys for years when I was emotionally more mature.

I know I’m jumping the gun in a big way by even writing these things outloud - but ultimately, we all just want to save our kids from some of the mistakes we made growing up. I know I can’t, but it won’t stop me from wishing I could.

I know that genuine interest in boys is far off for my girl, I’m just hoping

Photos I never Posted: Spring 2013






Half Written and Never Posted: Summer 2011

It’s weird the changes that occur when you become a mother. Your hearing becomes super sonic for one. I can hear one of my children whimper in their sleep over the sound of 10 people talking and the record player.

Motherhood is putting yourself at the back of the line, for everything, and yet never feeling like you are missing out or getting the short end of the stick. It’s eating cold chicken nuggets and shriveled peas well after your children have been fed, cleaned and put to bed or balancing your body precariously on the edge of a bed with barely any covers at all in an effort to ensure they are comfortable, warm and dreaming happily there beside you.

This experience has made me vulnerable in a really shocking way. To love anything on this earth as much as I love my children- it’s such a distinct and naked feeling. natural and foreign in the same breath. Even now, with nearly two years of trying to get used to it, sometimes I still whisper “I can’t believe how much I love you” under my breath when I watch them.

I remember one of the first times I made it out to a bar after Everly was born. Brent was playing a show. I ran into an old time acquaintance I had known from my younger days. He said to me “I bet you sure do miss this” as he pointed to the people around me in the dark room, their faces shining with sweat and lip gloss. I just smiled at him and said “You have no idea.”

because he didn’t. and he couldn’t possibly. But I knew. My sometimes sleepless nights, my cold peas for dinner, the worry, the joy, the strengths and weaknesses I’d discovered in my new role.

Half Written and Never Posted: May 2013

An Open Letter to Trader Joes.

Dear Trader Joes,

My name is Melissa Jordan and most of our family’s food budget each month is spent in your stores. I love that the majority of your items are dye free. I love that you use none GMO ingredients in all of your house brands. I love your cheap tempranillo wine and your frozen garlic naan like nobody’s business.

But today, I’d like to lodge a complaint. It’s regarding those tiny kid-sized red carts that you put out at the front of the store. At first glance, I found them charmingly pint-sized and fun. But I made the poor decision of letting my three year old daughter use one and quickly watched as all  hell broke loose.

The bigger problem here is that I am subjected to this madness EVERY TIME we set foot in your store. My daughter, Everly, makes a bee line for the carts. Since that fated day when I mistakingly introduced her, she refuses to shop without one. She is three, so our options are hysterical public freak out or relent.  On the days that we discover all of the tiny carts are in use, I secretly cheer inside. Typically, there is at least one there waiting for her.  Since I usually shop for a weeks worth of groceries, I also have to get a standard cart.  I began repetively telling my daughter to stay with me. pay attention. no, we don’t need that.

It is at this point that my daughter decides to play her own toddler version of supermarket sweep. Anything at eye level with interesting packaging is getting thrown in her cart while I pull them back out and put them back where they belong. I once unknowingly purchased 3 jars of sunflower seed butter she had tossed in without my knowledge. 

Heaven help us when we get to the chocolate/candy selection. I physically plant myself between her and the sweets. “We don’t need those. Keep moving. Nothing to see here.”  I do try to direct her towards the foods that are on our list. She happily picks out the bananas, breakfast bars, and apple sauce to put in her cart.

Trader Joes is always a mad house. The people of Raleigh get genuinely crazy eyed about low cost organic meats and freezer burritos. I have had my car rammed because I momentarily blocked the path to the guy handing out samples of pink lemonade.

The aisles are packed and we are barely squeezing by. Everly isn’t paying attention and narrowly misses ramming a couple of shoppers straight in the heels. By this point, I have one hand on my own cart and one hand on her shoulder trying to keep her on track and prevent her from causing serious injury to others. I have broken out into a sweat.

We make it to the dairy aisle, and while I put yogurt and cheese in my cart (gah, your cheese selection KILLS me. So good), my daughter has decided to abandon her cart all together. I now have a big cart, a small cart, and a 3 year old who is casually gravitating back to the candy aisle while pretending not to hear me as I shout “Everly! Get back here! We’re almost done. Everly!”  Another mother gives me a look of pity, and it’s likely she has also experienced tiny cart hell. It is only when I threaten to hand Everly’s cart over to another a child does she turn on her heels and come back to me.

I can see the end in site. Everly is sticking around now, but has no interest in pushing her cart so I am literally navigating the last aisle of the store pushing two carts at varying heights while my toddler holds onto my pant leg. She refuses to sit in the kids seat part of my big cart. Not even promises of a yogurt covered star cookie can convince her to do so. A young man in a hawaiian shirt carrying a large question mark on a stick stops me to ask if I am finding everything ok. I want to ask him on which aisle can I find my sanity.

It takes a 6 point turn to get through the last bend of the wine aisle without breaking anything. There is a man in the checkout line in front of me. He has two tiny carts, both holding a few groceries and no one else in sight. I look at him and he blurts out that his kids and wife left him to pay for everything while they went to the car.  I smile in sympathy and tell him I have been there. I watch as he pushes both carts, each holding a single grocery bag back to the front of the store where he discards the small, red carts with a joyous shove.

I write to you today to share my experience and in the hopes that you will help parents like myself have a more enjoyable shopping experience. Perhaps you can hide them in the back and only give them to people who request them. Perhaps there is a contraption out there that can attach it to a regular cart. Or perhaps the

parental regret on wheels

Half Written and Never Posted: Spring 2012

Today I thought I’d tell you something I’ve never shared on my blog before. For those of you who have been reading here for some time, you might remember that when we found out we were expecting our first baby, our first ultrasound said boy.  We were so excited! A boy! We already had our favorite girl name and boy name picked out long before I was pregnant.

It was June of 2009 when we started calling the baby in my belly Arlo, and it was August when we found out that, SURPRISE! There was actually a little Everly in there. Here is the post I wrote to share the news that I was actually carrying a girl. And here is the silly videos that we put up announcing her name.

As I shared in the gender surprise post, I didn’t share the name that we had chosen for a boy on my blog until after that second ultrasound because I had a dream that I was having a girl and something inside me just decided to wait until after we had a second confirmation.

So we spent the next afternoon after our ultrasound remaking the video with our girl name instead of our boy name.  Our original boy name was Arlo Wilder - when we learned our second child was a boy, we were still set on Arlo, but after years of keeping that first and middle name combo as our favorite, we ultimately decided that Redding was a better fit.

I still love the name Wilder, but our Arlo was definitely suited for the middle name Redding.  And we will always have the video above of the name that would never be.

Did any of you change your mind about a baby name that you loved? I

Photos I Never Posted: October 2013

Gerton, NC



Photos I Never Posted: November 2013

Kure Beach, NC



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